the forum

02 May, 2008

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

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I were to sum up alcohol sales over Christmas 2017 in one word, it would be “gin”. At Nielsen, we define the Christmas period as the 12 weeks to December 30 and in that time gin sales were £199.4 million, which means they increased by £55.4 million compared with Christmas 2016. There’s no sign the bubble is about to burst either. Growth at Christmas 2016 was £22.4 million, so gin has increased its value growth nearly two-and-a-half times in a year. The spirit added more value to
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