Drinks retailers are the solution, not the problem

I run a small wine merchant with a convenience and newsagent offering, and am growing increasingly concerned about and irritated by the government's attitude to drinking and to drinks retailers -

I believe we are part of the solution, not part of the problem.

One of my members of staff is 16

and has been joining in tastings since he was 15. I probably shouldn't be allowing a 15-year-old to take part in tasting, but he used to stand on the fringes and was so interested that he asked if he could join in.

His parents, who are very serious and religious, said that, from what he told them, these tastings were proper training sessions

and that they would like him to join in that training with the other staff. So he joined in and spat out the wine and jotted down notes like everyone else.

His wine knowledge is getting really good, and he is still a sober and responsible young man, despite his contact with alcohol at such a young age.

I so believe that we are part of the solution

because wine at my shop isn't about alcohol, it is about appreciating something that somebody has made and that tastes different to what is in a different bottle.

I think the government should take notice of that

and give credit to retailers like me who educate their customers rather than just selling to them. I know binge-drinking is a problem, but it's time for more creative solutions. I'm proud that the young people who work for me or buy from me learn to respect wine and enjoy it sensibly.

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