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09 July, 2010

Q If I donate some bottles of wine to charity, should I declare this in my accounts or is it simpler just to write off the stock???A Those bottles could just as easily have fallen off your shelf and smashed. Donít complicate your life by getting embroiled in the finer details of accounting, especially when all youíre doing is helping a good cause.

JR, Swindon??A HMRC does not allow alcohol to be given tax-free as a business gift, so I believe any donation of wine to a charitable cause, in theory, attracts tax. But if you simply made a donation of, say, £50 to a charity, you would be able to set this off against tax Ė and the charityís representative could put the money straight back in your till and buy the wine you were planning to donate anyway.

Walter, Hendon ?Q Iíve lost my refusals book. There are local concerns about under-age drinking but Iíve never failed a test purchase. Should I own up to the police now, or attempt to recreate it from memory, or simply start a fresh book???A Start a fresh book straight away and if the police ever ask to see any older records, simply be honest with them. Donít exacerbate the problem by fabricating records.

Julie, Middlesex??A Our refusals book is a huge hardback thing, tethered to the counter, and we write in it almost every day so it never has a chance to go walkabout. If the police think youíre careless with your records, they may rightly conclude that youíre sloppy in your approach to under-age sales, too.

Mary, Bournemouth??Q Some of my wines have damaged labels. Is it acceptable to photocopy a pristine label and apply it to the damaged stock??Graeme, Ayrshire??Q Can anyone really tell the difference between port made with machine-crushed grapes and port thatís made by foot-treading??Alastair, Cambridge

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English wine: a happy harvest for Christmas

All across England and Wales, vineyards are being harvested. Down winding country lanes come armies of welly-wearing conscripts wielding secateurs and buckets, ready to reap the rewards of our vines. Happily they come, their cheeks ruddy with pride. Half an hour later theyíre crawling over muddy clods with lacerated hands, drenched in claggy juice and cold sweat, as if ploughing through an endurance race.

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Is blended Scotch overshadowed by single malt in retailers?

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