When I returned from the US in 1977, I spent a last summer in St Andrews, renting a small cottage in Argyle Street, one with a lovely walled rose garden at the back. Among the roses was a variety called Superstar, with astonishingly bright pink-orange petals. I made two wines that summer. One was a rose petal wine I christened Superstar rosé, made from those flaming petals. It made an elegant, fragrant rosé wine. The other was a rhubarb wine, since the rose garden also had a copious supply of rhubarb. The rhubarb wine was very strong, in both taste and alcohol, so I diluted it with soda water, pouring it slowly and carefully so as not to lose much fizz, before tightly sealing each bottle. The result was a sparkling rhubarb wine I dubbed Rubocham. Sometimes after drinking some in the late evening, I would wake up to see a small edging of white on my lips, which may have been a product of oxalic acid in the wine.
It was a glorious last summer. I left St Andrews in late August, and on the last day of August moved in with my friend Stuart to the flat in London on which I had bought a 13-year lease at a low cost. We moved in and slept in sleeping bags on bare floors with no furniture. I never again made my own wine, perhaps because on that last day of August my life changed forever.