28 DECEMBER 2002, Page 55

Q. Our eldest son married a lovely German girl. and

now lives in southern Germany with our two grandchildren. We visit as often as we can, about four times a year, and during each visit we are invited for dinner at our daughter-in-law's father's house. The father has many admirable qualities, but a taste for decent wine is not one of them. He proudly serves wine made by the Baden-Wiirtemberg prison service, for which he pays about £1.50 a litre. Mary, it's

disgusting. I have tried taking something drinkable, but he's invariably opened bottles of the red and white prisoners' wine before we arrive. Apart from drinking the (excellent) German beer, what can I do to ensure that there is something better than acidic mouthwash to drink at his home?

A.J., Glastonbury-on-Wye, Powys A. Simply announce, on arrival in Germany, that you and your wife no longer drink alcohol. Sit back and enjoy the food while you are there, but take advantage of this difficulty, to allow the expedition to double as a health-farm-style break from self-indulgence. In this way you will come to look forward to the trips, as they will enable you both to kill two birds with one stone.