Holter on the loose

Bullying continues though government focus is shifting from under-age sales

The bullying of off-licence staff by test purchasing squads is unacceptable, and the article above highlights the pressure assistants are put under.

Some, for perfectly understandable reasons, collapse in a pool of tears when they are caught out. Others resent the way they have been duped but figure the best course of action is to swallow their pride, accept the fixed penalty notice and get on with their lives - frequently in a less dangerous job.

What happens if you stand your ground? We hear intriguing reports about assistants who are so sure they have not broken the law that they resist the FPN and demand to be taken to the station. Once they get there they are eventually released because the police don't want the expense and aggravation of handing over a relatively minor case to an already overstretched Crown Prosecution Service.

That's not a course of action to be recommended, because it's a gamble with unknown odds. Can you be sure the police will be so relaxed? Might not they relish the chance to get a high-profile conviction and make an example of you before the local media?

It seems

there is to be an almost perpetual test purchase campaign from now on, meaning shops and store staff must be on constant alert. Ironically, this comes at a time when we have it on good authority that the government is privately admitting that under-age sales are under control, and that the emphasis is shifting to tackling adult problem drinkers and sales to drunks.

Mixed up medical world

Secondary siting of alcohol - displaying drinks alongside foodstuffs instead of in splendid isolation - is slowly finding its way on to the political agenda.

The British Medical Association is worried that this type of merchandising is encouraging unsafe and irresponsible drinking.

So let's get this straight. If you put the idea in someone's head that a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc might make a very agreeable accompaniment to a prawn risotto, that's reckless.

But if you isolate all alcohol and put it in a ghetto patrolled by burly security guards and plastered with warning notices, that will encourage your consumers to take an enlightened, Medit erranean approach to drinking and their livers will be spared.

I was supposed to have a doctor's appointment on Friday. If my GP's logic is anything like as muddled as the BMA's thinking, I think I'll cancel it.

Albariño rules

It's terrific news that our New Wave Spanish Wine competition has been won by an Albariño. The grape has long been a favourite of many critics and has a reputation for consistent excellence in Rías Baixas.

Like New Zealand Sauvignon, it's a style that people seem happy to pay good money for - nobody bats an eyelid at price tags of £9.

I can't imagine a drinks retailer anywhere that wouldn't benefit from having at least one on its list.