Knackered Mother's Wine Club
Ahead of Mumsnet's Twitter party this Friday 22 March, blogger and author Helen McGinn posts on her journey from wine lover, to professional buyer, and how she's ended up sharing her favourite tipples and wine tasting tips, on her blog and in her book.
I do love my wine, I really do. I remember bottles of Australian wine being on the table when I was a teenager – my father was very wine-fashion-forward – and just thinking, well that is interesting. I joined a wine society at university (I swear I'm more fun than I sound, it was for sociable reasons more than anything). I remember thinking what an amazing world it would be to work in; cue lots of letters to wine companies asking them if I could be a wine buyer, please. My first ever interview was with a traditional wine company in the city – think pinstripes and the feint smell of cigars – and one of the first questions was 'could I type?' - I couldn't (pre-laptop days). And that was the end of that particular interview. Still, I carried on knocking on doors until a big supermarket let me in, via their graduate training scheme.
For the next nine years, I worked as a wine buyer sourcing wines from France, South America, New Zealand and Portugal among other places. It was a dream job, and I loved it. Of course there were a few years of wine exams to do, and on average one week out of every four was spent away from home, but this was all BC. Pre-kids, when I had time and energy in spades. Then, DS1 was born and I didn't want to go anywhere, ever again. Well, not exactly, but you get the gist. An international travelling job and a newborn baby might work for Brangelina, but not so much for me.
After six months off I was offered a part-time role working for an Australian wine company in the UK. It was a great company, with lovely people but the real attraction was the flexibility. I worked from home for most of the time, around the children (DS1 was joined by DS2 and DD in due course). And not that I realized it at the time, but the Knackered Mother's Wine Club blog, started one evening back in 2009, was the first step to starting my business.
The idea of running my own wine consultancy had been gnawing away at me for a while. I'd been asked to work on a few projects outside of my normal job and knew that if I kept saying no, those offers might not be there the next time I looked. Starting the Knackered Mother's Wine Club blog, creating something that people seemed to like and find helpful, made me braver about valuing my career experience and wine knowledge. So, a couple of years ago I jumped. I set up on my own, I didn't look down and it really was the best work decision I ever made.
Back to the blog. The idea behind it was simple; a place to share a couple of wine recommendations a week, whatever I happened to be drinking. I posted once a week, always in the evening when DH was away with work. Before long, I was writing a little introduction each week, usually something funny ha-ha, sometimes something funny ridiculous. Then there was the email. "Hi, I love your blog" it said. "I've got kids and love wine too", it said. "And I am the editor of a publishing company, would you like to write a book?" it said. Seriously?! Turns out she was.
So for the next six months, every Saturday morning DH took the boys off to play football and walk the dogs and I wrote, like a demon. Fifteen years of wine experience poured onto the page. We agreed the bones of the book and the rest followed, aided in no small part by caffeine and a temporarily quiet house. And because most of the women I know – both friends and readers of the blog – approach wine in a sensible way, it was amazing to be able to write a book that is full of facts but doesn't need go faster stripes or fluffy dice. (There is a Top Gear-type analogy in there somewhere, but I'm not sure I did it that brilliantly). No, this is about the important stuff: how is it made, what tastes good, what's great value, what food to put different wines with. And – scientific fact! – women have better taste buds (or rather more of them) and a better sense of smell.
So, there you have it. Why I love wine, why I wrote the book and why I think women make better wine lovers. Here's raising a glass to you – hopefully together on Friday night if you can make it. Bring the selected wines, or whatever is in your fridge-door/in the rack and bring any questions you might have about wine. I'll be there from 8pm, possibly in my tracksuit bottoms and slippers but definitely with a glass in hand.
Chin chin x
Mumsnet will be hosting a Twitter party full of chat and, of course, wine with Helen on Friday 22 March at 8.30pm - so grab yourself a and find out more here.