At the start of the year Constellation threw up its hands in despair at the UK’s habit of buying whatever wine is on promotion, selling its UK business to Aussie private equity group Champ at an appropriately hefty discount.

But can you blame us? Today, some rather fun – if not particularly scientific – research claimed that uncultured Brits can’t actually tell the difference between bargain-basement booze and wine that costs two or three times as much.

Richard Wiseman, the psychologist who carried out the research, called his results “remarkable”.

A mystery tipple was served to 578 people, who were then asked to identify whether the glass they just drank contained ‘cheap’ wine (here meaning costing less than a fiver) or expensive (upwards of £9.49).

As often as not, they judged wrongly. The volunteers got it right just 59% of the time with the Pinot Grigio – and that was the most successful.

“People were unable to tell expensive from inexpensive wines and so in these times of financial hardship the message is clear,” said Wiseman. “The inexpensive wines we tested taste the same as their expensive counterparts.”

To say the least, that’s stretching the point. Fittingly for a psychologist, Wiseman’s results say more about consumers’ preconceptions than they do about whether a £20 bottle represents decent value.

Clearly, different people will have their own ideas of what ‘expensive’ means and what it should taste like. Those who would happily count themselves as connoisseurs of the cheap’n’cheerful may even have assumed that a wine was expensive because they didn’t like it.

Wine, like anything else, is worth only what people will pay for it. That’s the art of retail right there.

Mind you, the study was carried out north of the border. They may not be experts on wine, but in Edinburgh they can tell the difference between a deep-fried Mars bar and a battered Snickers just from the way the grease soaks through the wrapper.

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