the forum

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

Q Why do so many customers refer to a "crate" rather than a "case" of wine? Is there a technical difference between the two terms?

A I was always taught

beer comes in crates and wine in cases.


a more important

question regarding the packaging of wines

is the

use of the word "case". Where wine is sold by the case, weights and measures legislation would suggest

the buyer has a legal right to know how much product

they can expect to receive. If I

buy a firkin of beer, I expect it to contain

9 gallons.

If I buy a case of wine, I expect

12 bottles (or 24 halves). Increasingly, I get only six. A cardboard box with a capacity of six bottles (or 12 halves) is a "carton".

Anthony, Cambs

Q I had a customer who was convinced

LBV port is superior to vintage. I can see why: it sounds more impressive. It pained me to put him straight and he took some convincing. Anyone else ever find themselves in a similar position, and how did you correct a misconception without appearing condescending

A Explain that any name that begins with the word "late" invariably indicates a product, or person, not quite at the height of their powers .

Ann, Worcs

A Explaining the intricacies of port production, ageing and legislation is notoriously difficult. That's why I would say "don't bother". Your customer is happy with LBV, just as I have dozens who love their Liebfraumilch. I could try to upsell them to fine Rhine Rieslings, but they don't have the appetite, or the budget, for such excursions.

Hamish, Edinburgh

Q I have (apparently) started saying "please enter your PIN" while I'm asleep. Am I working too hard?

A Probably. And it sounds as though you may require acupuncture ...

Baz, Exeter


Should I leave the dust on my bottles of fine claret and Burgundy to add to their mystique

CR, East Sussex

Q Would a realistic-looking panic button on my counter deter potential robbers?

Mitchell, London