the forum

08 August, 2008

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


Q "Wine and beer and you'll be queer, beer and wine and you'll be fine." Is there any scientific truth in this saying?

A My understanding is that carbonated products speed up the body's processing of alcohol, and once this is under way it continues when you move on to wine or shorts. This theory may explain why I generally feel level-headed after drinking Champagne.

Julie, Swindon

A The Americans have a saying which goes the other way: "beer then liquor, never sicker". I suspect that, in both cases, it's merely a case of people who drink too much inventing spurious justifications for their habits .

Irene, Derbyshire

Q A customer makes half-decent home brew and reckons I could sell it. Is this a good business opportunity or a stupid idea?

A It's a complete non-starter. You would have to be absolutely confident that you knew the precise alcoholic content, that the product complied with a million labelling laws

and, above all, was stable and safe. Even†if you cleared all those hurdles, and worked out how to pay the relevant†duty, the stuff would still probably taste disgusting. On this last point at least I speak from bitter (and lager) experience.

John Bull, Kent

A I am by no means advocating duty evasion, which punishes all of us, but if you were to stick some home brew in a cask and serve it in plastic containers, would anyone be any the wiser about its origin or the sizeable margins you'd be making?

Dylan, Devon

Q I want to buy a parrot and keep it in the shop. Is there any hope of me training it to say things like "Ch‚teau Lafite" or "Parker gave it 96"?

Gary, Hendon

Q If I send unsolicited bottles of cheap wine to various celebrities, am I legally allowed to put pictures of them on my wall and claim they are my customers?

PW, Manchester

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Hofmeister may need more than the bear essentials to succeed

So, George The Bear is back. Itís hard for some of us oldies to fathom, but there are those under, say, 40 who canít actually remember Hofmeister and feel the cultural jolt supplied by the return of both the bear and the beer whose marketing campaigns it used to front.

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Is blended Scotch overshadowed by single malt in retailers?

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