the forum

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

Q How come you're supposed to serve malt with a splash of water, bourbon with ice and Cognac on its own? Surely the same laws of physics apply to all three.

Henry, Wilts

AThere's no "supposed to" about it - drink any spirit in the way you personally enjoy it. However, it's well known that cold temperatures dull the taste of anything ... take a bite of some frozen peas if you don't believe me! I wince whenever I see anyone putting ice cubes in any well-crafted spirit, be it bourbon, malt, Cognac or Armagnac.

Hilary, Worcester

A Scotch is certainly opened up with a splash of water, but make sure it's not chlorinated tap water . Ice is an abomination in Scotch but seems to work with the sweeter American whiskeys. And I do find that water takes something away from those rich, luxurious Cognacs.

Bill, Devon

Q If I started drinking every commercially available wine (in the UK) at the rate of one per night, starting tonight, how many years would it take to try them all?

AJust under 80. claims to list 29,150 wines, which is probably some way off the actual figure for the market as a whole once you've factored in all the stuff in the independents. Working with that total results in 79.8 years of drinking, but obviously doesn't allow for all wines that will be launched or discontinued .

CM, Bournemouth

Q At our shop we find wine and food matching a slightly fatuous subject and have taken to offering silly advice such as "this wine really works with yoghurt". Are we disgracing our profession or does anyone else feel that wine and food pairing is a load of baloney?

Craig, west London

QDo cobwebs and dust add atmosphere to a fine wine fixture? Some of my customers expressed bewilderment when I took the Dyson to my shelves recently.

Mary, Notts