This is fascinating and checks with my own memories. We Brits were a beer and spirits (mostly beer) nation in my early childhood. My parents went to the pub and drank beer. My Nan drank Gin and French (and anything else actually) but we rarely had wine.
Then in the late 1950s Mum and Dad started to holiday abroad and wine started to appear at home, mostly for high days and holidays. Brands like Nicholas and Chianti in straw clad bottles appeared in the off licence and, roughly from when I got married in 1969, the beginnings of a wine culture started.
In the 1970s wine was still elitist, expensive and snobbish. But gradually the choice widened and imports exploded. The supermarkets stocked wine on their shelves and value brands from around the world became available. For wine consumption to today equal that of beer is remarkable, and slightly worrying – a litre of wine has rather more alcohol than a litre of beer!
Britain has the most varied wine choice in the world. Other big wine consuming nations like America, France, Italy or Australia have their own indigenous winemakers and consumers tend to stick to these. In the U.K., whilst we do now make now some good local wine, 98% is imported and the wine world beats a path to our door. In my wine rack you can find bottles of wines from ten different countries quite often (they only stay briefly in the rack).
Wine today is far less snobbish and much better value. It’s also far better to drink! The norm now is to drink wine young – even some Bordeaux reds are now drunk only a year or two old and far better for it. Supermarkets, and not just the posher ones, have excellent wine choices and value for money. The tend towards screw top closures is a positive one, though I now have a battery operated corkscrew for the traditionally cork sealed bottles!