the forum

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

Q Is it possible for a non-drinker to work in a wine shop? Could I be accused of prejudice by vetoing their appointment or is wine appreciation an essential skill of the job?

BF, London

A In this job I truly believe wine appreciation is essential. Why should customers spend money in your shop if you can't talk passionately about the product you're selling? Enthusiasm for your wares will clinch every sale.

Sally, Bucks

A I am a Muslim who works in a thriving wine merchant and my decision not to drink alcohol has never in the 15 years I have worked here affected my ability to perform my role, nor has my boss ever suggested that it might. Just because I choose not to drink does not mean I cannot talk knowledgably about wine regions, how wine is made and tasting techniques.

AS, London

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

VS, Swansea

A As long as you're literally not pouring it down your customers' throats, I don't think anyone can accuse you of forcing alcohol on them. After all, when a customer walks into your shop they are making a decision to be surrounded my alcohol and all its associated paraphernalia. Offering samples is a great way to engage with customers, talk to them about the product and, hopefully, to persuade them to leave with a lighter wallet.

Jason King, Stockport

Q Last week I had a heavily pregnant lady in my shop who was slurring her words and was obviously drunk. I was completely unsure if I should sell her the two bottles of wine she wanted to buy. Is it my place to lecture her on the dangers of drinking when pregnant, or should I have simply refused the sale because she was drunk? When, if ever, should a retailer get personally involved in customers' lives?

Jon, Derby

Q Can anyone recommend a particular Scotch whisky distillery tour? The more tartan, bagpipes, haggis and, of course, sampling the better!

Leslie Jones, Eastbourne

QLaa-Laa has just walked into my shop and bought a bottle of White Lightning - well a man who was dressed as the yellow Teletubby anyway. Anybody else ever served an unusually costumed member of the pubic?

Kate, Slough

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