DIRE warnings about various tipples have been received by Lai See , but as yet we have not cracked the secret of the good wine for under $50. Our in-house team of trusty tasters were last week on the verge of spitting the dummy and refusing to try any more of the muck that we had been bringing in. It takes a lot to do this, but they were threatening never to drink with us again. As a result, we went up-market with our choice of wines this week by splashing out $96 on a bottle of Rosemount Estate Semillon Chardonnay and $50 on a bottle of KWV Roodenberg But before Lai See gets hammered into our stuff, we relay these important warning messages. Ian Grundy of Central tells us all to beware of Reserve St Martin. 'It must have a top spot in the ultimate plonk league,' he said. It is most commonly found in bargain bins marked 'sale, sale, sale' and retails for about $33 a bottle. 'A low price for such a serious health risk,' said Ian. 'Annoyingly, many bars sell this as their house white and it can truly give one a Hong Kong hangover to remember.' Especially if you've been paying more than $33 a glass, which we suspect you'll have to. A colleague familiar with this number notes that as well as pricey bars it could be 'the house wine of 25 Cromwell Street'. Sheila Self's description of her most feared quaff was absolutely Lai See's case of Nuits St George. 'The house wine of the Hong Kong Football Club has a flavour which can be likened to one of the astronauts' underwear on Apollo 13 shortly after landing,' she said. 'I think that to qualify for membership you have to drink a glass before throwing up.' Sheila did also have an excellent tip for a good yet price sensitive wine - the South African Cape Vintry wines which are on sale in Park'N Shop for $39. South African and Chilean wines are indeed the best bet for well-priced but good wine in Hong Kong. Our KWV proved to be the first pleasing red in the Lai See taste tests. The cork was completely dry all the way up which was an ill omen but the wine itself proved totally drinkable. There was less in the way of poetic comment around and more in the way of 'I'll just have another water cooler cupful of that'. Slightly bland - but perhaps it need more time to breath. A North American found it too heavy. The Rosemount was served chilled just slightly too far but as we held it, the flavour deepened and became more complex. At $96 a bottle, this is priced very close to what one would pay in Australia, according to our senior consultant. Cutting answer GOVERNOR Christopher Patten was given a stern ticking off after his policy speech by that gifted economist Law Cheung-kwok. Dr Law told Chris that he had not assessed productivity accurately. 'Now, I can tell you that very certainly you won't get five economists in the private sector who will agree with these figures,' he declaimed. The Governor retorted: 'I don't have the advantage of belonging to what I think is called 'the gloomy profession' - I'm not an economist. 'I also accept what was implicit in the honourable gentleman's view that if you have 10 economists in a room you have 10 different views.' Actually, the Governor is wrong about it being called the 'gloomy profession', these days it is known as 'the sad profession' - sad as in pathetic. Chris does continue a long tradition of politicians having problems with economists. President Harry Truman once said he was searching for a one-armed economist so that the guy could never make a statement and then say 'on the other hand. . .' Sweet nicked OBSERVE, Gentle reader, the Lotus Blossom in our picture. This comes from the front cover of the ICAC's latest survey. Perhaps the ice-cream, as it is known to those who have been investigated, is trying to project a fluffy new image. Perhaps it doesn't know that in Oriental literature the blossom symbolises far more than enlightenment, beauty from mud and so forth. Time out WHEN brokerages merge, people worry that top research teams will fall apart. Not the case with this newly created bunch - their Asian Adviser team have actually gained psychic powers since the merger as you can see from the latest issue. Fill your boots.