At a time of uncertainty, people find consolation in old verities. Wine-drinkers, it seems, are no exception. Old World wines are staging a comeback in Britain after a decade in which the New World has held sway.
The obvious explanation is price. The fall in the euro and the pound against the US and Australian dollars, along with rising transport costs, have made these once all-conquering wines less competitive on the supermarket shelves. Italian, Spanish and, increasingly, French wines, have returned to popularity.
But there is another, more cheering – and less mercenary – explanation. Our palates, it is said, have tired of the heavy, relatively monotonous wines that arrive on these shores from much of the New World, and are learning all over again to savour the greater complexity and character of the Old World. The classic regions, Rioja, Chablis, the Rhône, are back in fashion, the bottles often made freshly appealing with New World-style labels. Old wine, new bottles: British wine-lovers are rediscovering their European side.