The Third Leader: Goutez la difference

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The Independent Online

Time for another purse of the lips, wobble of the cheeks, long pause and intense stare into the middle distance: the low and the uncultivated are out to play, sniggering at the news that cheaper supermarket champagnes have outscored the famous houses in a taste test conducted by Which?.

Noting that the blind tasting was conducted not only by independent wine experts but also by journalists, conscious that my expertise lies mainly in the area of canned Continental hops, and keeping a straight face, I will make no judgement myself between Sainsbury's Taste the Difference, Somerfield's Prince William and Moët & Chandon Brut Imperial.

Except, perhaps, to say that anyone who believes the luxury market is principally concerned with price clearly has been at rather too much of the Marks & Spencer Bluff Hill Sparkling.

Not, of course, that such a charge could be levelled at the esteemed editor of Which?, even if he is quoted as saying, "People should not feel they have to spend a fortune on champagne". But that's exactly how they want to feel.

A tricky business, then. Perhaps I might suggest a way forward, subtle but crucial. It's to do with nomenclature. Those of us who applaud the aggressively popular instincts of the much-maligned supermarket sector have at the same time often wished while entertaining that they could keep their name off the label, or at least placed more discreetly, on a separate, easily detached bit.

Moreover, a simple change to, say, Sainsenterre Goutez La Difference or Champs d'Ete Prince Guillaume might make all the, how you say, difference. Santé!

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