You ask the questions: Jilly Goolden

(Such as: how is it possible for a wine to taste 'like a mellow autumn evening'?)
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Jilly Goolden is known for her appearances on BBC's Food and Drink and The Great Antiques Hunt. Goolden has also written a number of best-selling books, including A Taste of Wine. She lives in the Home Counties with her husband Paul, a civil servant, and their three children.

Jilly Goolden is known for her appearances on BBC's Food and Drink and The Great Antiques Hunt. Goolden has also written a number of best-selling books, including A Taste of Wine. She lives in the Home Counties with her husband Paul, a civil servant, and their three children.

Is it hygienic to drink something if the smell has a compost component? David Laws, Huntingdon, Cambs

The fact that some wines (pinot noirs especially) smell deliciously of compost or rotting cabbage (mingled with other fruitier scents, as well), doesn't mean that they have compost in the recipe. It's simply that the fragrance (if you can call it that) of compost is one of the scents that is called to mind when you get your nose in the glass. And I happen to like it a lot!

What are your greatest extravagances? Mary J Waller, London E1

I once spent 24 hours at a health farm as their guest and I must say it was a little slice of heaven. As far as other extravagances are concerned I'm disappointingly frugal, but I can go a bit wild on shoes.

How is it possible for a wine to taste like "a mellow autumn evening, with a hint of nuts and berries", etcetera, etcetera? Henry Lane, Bristol

I have personally never described a wine as "a mellow autumn evening". And I know that, because an evening doesn't have a smell or a flavour. In describing wines (which I do in adjectival overdrive to give viewers at home, who haven't got a glass of it in their hand, a chance of envisaging what it's like), I examine the wine in huge detail on nose and palate, and the scent and flavour recall everyday scents and flavours that I attempt to build up into a "taste picture". In that way I attempt to describe the elusive bouquet and palate of the wine.

What is your favourite tipple? Henry Lane, Bristol

I love drinks of almost all kinds and for me the greatest pleasure is the voyage of discovery. OK then, twist my arm and I'll have a glass of champagne. Or a Lowland single malt whisky. Or a wheat beer.

Do you ever worry about becoming an alcoholic? Francis Turner, London SE1

Tasting huge numbers of wines is far removed from drinking them - you try to ingest as little as humanly possible. So on days when I am attend ing a big tasting, I never have a drink. On other days I tend to have a glass, possibly two, of beer or wine, but I rarely have more than that. Why? Discipline, I suppose. I don't fancy becoming an alcoholic!

Know a good hangover cure? Jane Gretex, Birmingham

Hangovers! Aren't they hell? Yes, of course, I've had hangovers but I try to avoid them altogether or keep them down to an absolute minimum (New Year's Day will probably be an exception, I foresee). The best way to stave them off is not to drink too much - but while you're drinking, it is essential that you match drink for drink with an equal quantity of water - even if you're drinking beer.

Is it true that on a Food and Drink Christmas special you described a particular wine as having the properties of a "wooden bra"? If this is true, what exactly would a wooden bra taste of, and when should one wear one?! Sean Barnes, Luton, Bedfordshire

A wooden bra! Yes, I confess, I referred to such a thing in a manner of speaking. What I in fact said is that the oak in a heavily oaked chardonnay supports the fruit, like a bra, rounding it up and filling it out. I wasn't saying it smelt or tasted of a wooden bra. I'm not quite that dippy.

What was the most expensive bottle of wine you've ever ordered in a restaurant? Larry Michael, by e-mail

I've never ordered a very expensive bottle of wine in a restaurant. Wine is only a drink; it's not diamonds, or something you can hold on to.

How do you recommend getting red wine stains out of carpets and clothes? Megan Lovett, by e-mail

It's alleged that the best way is to douse it with white wine the moment it's spilt. There isn't any scientific proof for this, though. Old-fashioned soda siphons do a pretty good job, as well. Immediate action is the key.

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