Book review: The Knackered Mother’s Wine Club by Helen McGinn

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Fancy a glass of wine with your baked beans on toast? Make it a soft, juicy Spanish red made from the Tempranillo grape... or a New World Shiraz if there’s a dash of HP sauce!

No TV supper, snack lunch or snatched tea is too humble to be consumed without the perfect glass of ‘vino,’ says the very wise, very wonderful and very knowledgeable Helen McGinn.

A mother of three young children, overworked housewife and refreshingly unpretentious wine expert, McGinn is something of a visionary when it comes to women and wine.

She can see the panic in the wine aisle when they come face to face with a terrifying ‘wall of wine’ and end up reaching for the same old thing, the bottle with the ‘nicest’ label or hoping that one in the ‘middle’ price range will be just the job.

And her decade sourcing wines around the world as a supermarket wine buyer left her friends queuing up to seek out her recommendations for everything from everyday get-togethers and birthday parties to weddings, christenings and anniversaries.

McGinn sent out regular emails with advice and wine deals until one night her blog, The Knackered Mother’s Wine Club, was born and became not just an instant red-hot favourite with mums everywhere but an award winner as well.

And now we can all get in on the act with the publication of her all-inclusive book and its unrefusable invitation to explore the warm, chilled-out and sparkling world of wine.

With the minimum of fuss and the maximum fun and charm, McGinn’s enchanting and accessible guide takes us through a ‘school year’ of simple wine lessons from an autumn term of cosy, fireside reds, through the minefield of Christmas booze and on to a summer ‘love-in’ of outdoor, fruity favourites.

On the way we learn how to go beyond the discount deals, choose the right wine for every food and every occasion, discover the can’t-go-wrong crowd-pleasers, perfect reds to go with your Sunday roast, the best wine to drink with chocolate, plus some unexpected suggestions for a ‘girls’ night in.’

McGinn also takes us on a fascinating journey through wine production ... how it is made, what affects its flavour, its rules, regulations and traditions and some hilarious advice on differentiating between wine’s fruit flavours (the ‘zip’, ‘grip’ and ‘oomph’ if you need to get technical!)

And to help keep the wine facts flowing and the ‘wine satnav’ in good working order, McGinn injects some personal anecdotes and her own brand of dry, fruity and deliciously mellowed humour into her invaluable selection of top tips.

So if you automatically choose the second-cheapest wine on the wine list, want to extend your wine horizons beyond Pinot Grigio or simply agree with McGinn that life is too short to drink bad wine, then The Knackered Mother’s Wine Club is the perfect tipple for Mother’s Day!

(Pan, paperback, £7.99)