Book Review - Teetotal Tipples
Teetotal Tipples – For January and Beyond
By Helen McGinn
Published by Robinson, 2016
About the Author
Helen McGinn is the founder of award-winning wine blog, The Knackered Mother’s Wine Club. Her career includes ten years as a supermarket wine buyer before moving into the world of wine journalism. She has raised three children, spending several years pregnant or breastfeeding.
“Wine courses through my veins, literally.”
“Think of this book as a friend, with a (dry) sense of humour, to keep you company in style through your booze-free spell.”
The cover promises a fun, light-hearted, entertaining read whilst the blurb introduces you to the witty style of writing present throughout. The colourful imagery on the front is engaging, but as it depicts classic cocktails, I’m a little confused by it. If you were to glance at the book without noticing it’s title, you would assume it was a book about alcohol. Well it is, but a lack of. Having said that, perhaps that’s exactly what the consumer wants – a drink that looks like an alcoholic beverage, but is slyly non-boozy. I think there is definitely a discussion to be had on society’s perception of non-drinkers.
The hard-back cover is pretty and charming. However, when you open the book to find quite coarse paper, it feels a little disappointing. The cover led me to believe the pages would be glossy and full of imagery. There isn’t a single photograph or illustration in the whole book.
This is a guide for anyone who wishes to cut-down their alcohol consumption, for those who are pregnant or breastfeeding and for everyone who longs for a soft drink which is created with the same level of attention and quality as any alcoholic counterpart.
What I Liked
I loved the pace of narrative. Helen superbly blends humorous anecdotes with personalised recommendations. It is exactly as though a friend were suggesting a product. The style is engaging and informative, being simultaneously quick and lively enough to devour in one-sitting.
“Take it to the sofa, grabbing a blanket on the way.”
Equally, the book is clearly divided into simple chapters allowing you to easily dip in and out. This makes it especially accessible for returning to the recipes and product recommendations later. The chapters are a reasonable length, conveying plenty of options and choice without becoming tedious or overwhelming.
What I Disliked
No pictures! I understand that most drinks look very similar and that we all know what a glass looks like, but I do feel it would be beneficial to have a few photographs showing you what your cordials and syrups should look like. More importantly, it would be incredibly helpful to have a small image of the recommended products so that you’re familiar with them and can subsequently look for them on a supermarket shelf a lot easier.
I know who Helen is and what she looks like, (from following her blog and judging at the same wine competitions) but if I didn’t, it would be wonderful to have a photograph of her at the front of the book. The prose is written in Helen’s distinctive style and tone, reflecting her personality. It’s lovely to hear someone’s voice and to have that level of connection with the author when you’re reading and this could be heightened with the addition of a photograph.
I loved this book. More than I originally thought I would, which is a huge credit to it. It has enlightened me as to how easy preparing your own non-alcoholic versions can be and how many adaptations to classic recipes there are. I always thought it would require a lot more effort as you can’t simply remove the alcohol and expect the drink to still work in terms of flavour and balance.
This book is a brilliant resource for recommendations of existing non-alcoholic products to purchase. It has accomplished its aims and I’m really impressed with Helen’s approach and gentle guiding words. This topic could easily have become preachy and virtuous.
For everyone who wishes to pay as much attention to quality and flavour
in their soft drink choices as they would with their wine.