the forum

To respond to the unanswered questions below, or to ask a reader's advice, simply e mail:


I pride myself on having tasted every wine on my shelves and I write tasting notes for them all. But when a customer challenged me to describe and identify some of them in a

blind tasting, I was all at sea. Is this proof

I don't know my business as well as I thought I did, or does everyone make these


ABlind tasting isn't supposed to be a test of your knowledge, though clearly it's useful if you can tell a Chardonnay from a Sauvignon Blanc . But being able to repeat

the same observations about a wine each time you taste it suggests either a) a

dull, one-dimensional wine or b) superhuman powers on your part. Your customer is just another one of the smart-arses that we in the wine trade need to learn to tolerate .

Alastair, Finchley

Q I've just told a charity worker

I don't want another collection box on my counter because it's valuable sales space. I feel guilty now - but my margins are tiny and business is tough. Was I really being mean?

A Not in the least. Those boxes get in the way, are a magnet for smack-heads

and don't make more than a few quid. Why not make a charitable gesture by selecting a

local cause and running a wine tasting which raises money for it, or donate 5p-10p from sales of a particular wine to that organisation?

You can also offset the donation against your tax bill so everyone wins.

CG, Macclesfield

Q All the obvious off-licence names have been taken, many times over. So how come nobody has thought of calling their shop City's Liquors?

A We have been left with the remains of a Foster's fascia leaving just the trademark "F". Consequently we are now referred to as the "F Off-licence".

Andy, Bristol

Q If a friend of mine goes ahead with his plan to call his shop Oliver Reed's, is he breaching any sort of law?

Jason, Essex

Q I have a south facing window. Will a grapevine grow there or just look pathetic

(like its owner)?

LK, Hants