the forum

04 April, 2008

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

oln.editorial@william-reed.co.u

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Q How insistent should I be when offering samples - could I be accused, by the police, of forcing people to drink alcohol?

A I am increasingly wary of this, especially as the local scallies have been known to gatecrash our informal tastings just to get their hands on a thimble-full of Shiraz. These days we tend to put the open bottle on visible display at the back of the counter and offer samples to those who are clearly not freeloaders or people off the street.

HP, Staffs

A I am sick of being accosted by people in supermarkets and airports, foisting drinks on me that I really don't want to taste. I imagine that this sort of thing will eventually be phased out as the industry comes under more pressure to clean up its act. As for us: tutored tastings every month, entry with ticket only.

Jim, Sussex

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? Is it just too subtle?

A Because it's rubbish?

Phil, Yarmouth

Q If I offer baskets to customers as they enter my shop, will my average transaction value increase?

Graham, west London

APossibly. But whether it will compensate for the initial outlay, or the breakages they cause as they are swung around at Liebfraumilch level is another matter. If I see a customer I suspect is a big spender, I offer them a box - and carry it to the car for them if they want.

Barry, Suffolk

Q Can I rely on a "portcullis" shutter system to protect the front of my shop or must it be a solid steel model?

Graham, west London

Q My local microbrewery is run by lovely, enthusiastic people who sadly make dreadful beer. Do I stock it as a gesture of local solidarity or explain my concerns about the quality of their product?

Name and address supplied




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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 ľ which makes it especially galling that we spend so much time divided over it.

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