I first came across the author Helen McGinn in April 2010 after her blog, The Knackered Mother’s Wine Club, was chosen as the British Mummy Bloggers’ (now BritMums) ‘Blog of the Week’. I popped over for a visit and ended up with a trolley full of Fiano and Chablis on my next trip to Tesco.
Helen used to be a supermarket wine buyer and now, three children later, runs her own wine business. Her approach to giving advice on wine has always been down-to-earth, sensible and cost-conscious. No wine snobbery here: Helen is happy to suggest, in her weekly ‘white in the fridge’ and ‘red in the rack’ tips, supermarket offers which are worth a second look.
It came as no surprise to discover Helen’s blog had been spotted by publishers Pan Macmillan and she had been asked to write a book which is about to be published on 14 February. It is a book designed to gently help those of us who have a wobble while standing at the wall of wine in the supermarket, who don’t know the difference between a Merlot and a Malbec and assume anything half-price must be worth a punt.
This book is a real gem. It isn’t a weighty tome full of confusing tasting notes or with photographs showing rows of vines and gnarled farmers ankle-deep in grapes. It is a funny canter through the year, suggesting wines for summer parties, Sunday roasts and winters round the fireside. Helen shares anecdotes as she goes in a warm self-deprecating style. Readers can pick up suggestions on what to serve adults who are hanging around at kids’ parties (a punch made from Moscato d’Asti and lime served in Hello Kitty paper cups) while laughing at her comment that children only ever eat the top part of Iced Gems.
Having devoured Helen’s book this weekend, I am ready to face the supermarket with renewed vigour and a decent amount of knowledge. I now realise that Shiraz and Syrah are the same grape, only from different countries, that bag-in-a-box wine is nothing to be ashamed of and that a juicy Spanish red is just the thing to accompany beans on toast.
Helen sent me a copy of The Knackered Mother’s Wine Club. It will be published on 14 February.