Next thing, you'll say the Canadians are making it

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In a random survey at Canary Wharf, east London, people asked to sample English wine expressed pleasant surprise.

The test was between a Denbies Riesling l995, produced at a Surrey vineyard, retailing at pounds 5.99 and a Muscadet de Sevre et Main from the Rhone Valley, normally sold at off-licences for pounds 5.00.

Simon Parker, working for Morgan Stanley, said: " I do prefer the Denbies, it does appear to have a bit more character than the French wine. The Muscadet is OK, but it is rather bland. The English wine is more interesting."

Louise Robinson, who is about to start her first job with the management consultants Price Waterhouse, opined that the English wine "seems to be more fruity, there is a sort of sparkle to it. I lived in France for a while, and I had always gone for French wine, and I must admit if I were to to experiment, I would not have thought of trying English wine".

Mr Parker's colleague Matthew Yeo preferred the Muscadet, but was willing to try English wine again. "People are much more keen to experiment nowadays, and judging from this, English wine seems to have improved enormously." The last word goes to Nancy Frahm, a holidaymaker from Indianapolis: "English wine, get away!" Even after sipping the Denbies she was unconvinced. The wine must be from somewhere else, she said. "You're having me on! There's no such thing as British wine. We have read a half-dozen guide books ... and none of them mentioned it. Next thing you'll be saying the Canadians are making wine." They do.