TALKING HEADS

22 February, 2008

Richard Brooks

Bennetts Fine Wines,

Chipping C

ampden

What advice would you give

to someone thinking of

setting up a wine merchant

The old adage "to make a small fortune in the wine business, start with a large one" springs to mind. Serious advice

would be

- don't try

to compete with supermarkets. Be different, be passionate about your wines and let it show in the range you choose ; never refuse the opportunity to perform a wine tasting; get to know your customers; and offer

service that exceeds expectations.

A common misconception of me is?

That I am snobby about food and wine. As well as working in the wine trade I was a Michelin restaurant inspector for eight years.

If you could swap jobs with anyone for one day, who would it be?

The

Chancellor on

Budget day - I would slash duty on still wine and Champagne to rates more akin to those applied on the continent. We pay far too much

duty in this country and most customers are not aware VAT is charged on duty too, a sneaky double tax.

What is the first drink that made you drunk?

Local West Country cloudy scrumpy cider served on dra ught at 45p per pint. At least it was local, naturally made, a good example, relatively complex for a drink of this type, true to its origins and didn't give me a headache.

What's the most underrated and overrated wine in the UK market?

Underrated is fine Italian wine . Forget the mass-produced rubbish that puts many people off ever exploring Italian wine further, once you have tasted a good Italian wine with some rustic, well cooked, flavoursome food there is no looking back.

Overrated is confected, inexpensive, mass -produced, high -alcohol, Aussie Shiraz. I'd rather drink tap water.

If you could change one thing about the drinks industry what would it be?

Ban RTDs and if necessary prosecute the companies that produce them - I have never tasted such synthetic rubbish.

It is without doubt

responsible for creating a generation of teenage (and shockingly on occasions younger) drinkers who have no appreciation of flavour or quality . It's the drinks trade equivalent of junk food.




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