Leading article: An amusing little concoction

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HERE IS a story to cheer anyone who has plumped blindly for the third-cheapest wine on the list, and nodded knowingly at the pleasant yet entirely unexpected taste when asked to sample it. Edward Jeffries was fined pounds 4,750 under the Trades Descriptions Act this week for selling wine from a kit as "estate grown" on his Cornish vineyard. That's right, a Cornish vineyard. Suspicion about the feasibility of such a project - it turns out you can't grow grapes in those parts - prompted trading standards officers to investigate this appellation incontrolee. It turned out Mr Jeffries had resorted to a do-it-yourself wine-making kit, added sugar and water, and sold the results for upwards of pounds 5 a bottle.

Now, most of us have no idea what English wine is supposed to taste like, beyond a vague folk memory of something undrinkable called Concord in the Seventies. Many of us, in truth, would have difficulty telling a Chilean Merlot from a tin of boot polish. As long as Chateau Jeffries used good- quality kits, everyone was happy. Especially Mr Jeffries, making a pounds 30,000- a-year profit from following simple instructions and sticking on bogus labels.

Even the prosecution had to admit to Falmouth magistrates: "People were buying what they had tasted and liked." It seems churlish, then, to complain that the wording on the label did not correspond precisely with the contents. For most people the whole point of drinking is to get away from such unnecessary attention to detail. Another glass anyone?

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