the forum

26 January, 2007

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

oln.info@william-reed.co.u

k

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?

A If you want a reputation as an unhelpful and rather stupid ­retailer, you seem to be on the right track . ­Offering some friendly and sound advice is one of the unique selling points your shop should cultivate in the fight against the multiples. If you don't feel ­qualified to offer an expert opinion, that's ­something you could try to put right by getting some education and actually tasting your wines.

Mary, North Yorks

A I have some lovely Riesling that will go beautifully with your baloney.

Kath, Staffs

Q Do 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.

A I certainly dust the cobwebs off my bottles but it's true that customers quite enjoy a bit of rustic squalor when buying finer wines. We have a tiny cellar with some rickety steps and slightly damp walls. The wooden shelves are all wonky and you can't stand upright if you're more than 5ft 10in. But it seems to add to the appeal and turns the ­experience into an adventure.

HJ, London

Q Is it true that gin makes some people depressed and tearful? Why should this be the case?

Kath, Staffs

Q Would it make more sense, in these environmentally ­conscious times, to sell wine from bulk containers and ask customers to bring in their own bottles?

David, North Wales

Q I can't bear to miss Celebrity Big Brother. Do I need a special licence to watch TV in the shop?

Lucy, Kent




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Richard Hemming MW: beware inverse snobbery

Few things can bring communal pleasure so intimately as wine. Apart from a hot tub, perhaps. Sport can trigger mass jubilation, film gives us shared empathy, but wine has a nigh-unique ability to bestow conviviality among us through a shared bottle – which makes it especially galling that we spend so much time divided over it.

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