Helen McGinn is the author of award-winning wine blog The Knackered Mother’s Wine Club. She has a weekly wine column in the Daily Mail and regularly appears on television as a wine expert. She‘s won numerous awards for her blog, including Fortnum & Mason’s Online Drink Writer of the Year and Red magazine’s Best Blogger.
Helen spent almost a decade sourcing wines from around the world as a supermarket wine buyer before spending the next half-decade pregnant. She is married with three children, too many dogs and a weird cat. Her desert island wine would be a bottle of 1988 vintage champagne!
Helen is a long standing friend of Lime Wood and happens to live just down the road. Helen joins us to share her top tips for Lock Down drinks!
By Helen McGinn
So, staying in is the new going out. Our food choices have been pared back for obvious reasons but when it comes to picking what we’re going to drink, I’m having a lot of fun. My local independent wine shop is still delivering (thank goodness!) so I’ve been ordering mixed cases. I give them a budget and a rough steer and it’s like the best lucky dip ever. And then there are the homemade cocktails, which are, I have to confess, a little stiffer than normal. Here are a few of my current favourites:
Felicette Grenache Noir 2018, £8.99, thesolentcellar.co.uk
This joyous red is from Southern France, a blissful mash-up of Grenache Noir with a splash of Syrah and Mourvedre thrown in to give it extra grip. Vibrant, juicy and so moreish, I’ve already ordered a top up.
Picpoul de Pinet 2018, Grange des Rocs, £8.70, lescaves.co.uk
This Guildford-based independent wine retailer has closed its shop but is continuing with home delivery service (including a 15% discount for all NHS employees). The range is stuffed with interesting wines like this one, a crisp, lively white made from the Picpoul grape in the Languedoc region in southern France.
This puts tequila and grapefruit together in a glass – what a good idea – and you’re far more likely to come across this in bars in Mexico than you are a Margarita. I love it with pink grapefruit juice, for the colour as much as the taste.
30ml pink grapefruit juice
15ml fresh lime juice
10ml sugar syrup
Fill a tall glass or tumbler with ice and pour in the tequila, pink grapefruit and fresh lime juice. Add the sugar syrup and stir before topping up with soda water. Garnish with a wedge of pink grapefruit.
Turkish Delight Vodka
Has there ever been a better time to make your own infused vodka? I think not. This is one of my favourites (and apologies if you don’t like Turkish Delight). Use whatever flavour you prefer (my favourite’s a mix of rose and lemon, but if you love the taste of rose, go full rose).
200g Turkish delight
Rinse the Turkish delight under the tap to wash the sugar off (otherwise the liquid goes very cloudy) and pop it into a clean jar. Pour over the vodka, put the lid on and give it a gentle shake. Leave it for at least a week (this one does need a bit of time to get that delightful flavour infused). When it’s got the right amount of Turkish delight taste for you, strain the liquid into a jug before pouring back into the jar or into a clean bottle. Seal and store in the fridge. To serve, add it to a glass with crushed ice and top up with soda water and a twist of lemon peel. Or make a killer Martini garnished with a sprinkling of dried rose petals and a twist of lemon peel.
Boozy Hot Chocolate
I think, given the circumstances, this definitely counts as an essential. I love this with Frangelico hazelnut liqueur but if you don’t have any, just use rum instead. If you’re doing that, add a spoon of dulce de lecce and a pinch of salt flakes for the most ridiculously delicious salted caramel version. This serves one.
50ml double cream
15ml cocoa powder
25ml hazlenut liqueur (or rum, see above)
Sugar to taste
Whipped cream (optional)
Warm the milk in the pan then add the cream and chocolate powder. Whisk gently until well mixed. Add the hazelnut liqueur, a tablespoon of sugar and stir. Pour into a big mug and add the whipped cream on top is using. Now head to the sofa.
This is non-alcoholic version of one of my favourite cocktails, the French 75. I know, I prefer it with champagne and cognac too but this is refreshingly good and really simple to make when you need a break from the booze.
Dash of sugar syrup
200ml bitter lemon
Use a chilled glass if you can, somehow makes it even more delicious. Add the juice of half a lemon or more if you want along with a dash of sugar syrup. Then top up with fridge-cold bitter lemon. Serve immediately.
Follow Helen on Instagram @knackeredmother or visit her website for more wine tips (www.knackeredmotherswineclub.com). Her new book, The Knackered Mother’s Wine Guide (£8.99, Bluebird) is out now.