My wife has been away. Wednesday evening, she sent me an sms to say that she was drinking a nice fino. Dear that took me back.
Growing up, my parents used to have a nice dry sherry before dinner every night with a few biscuits. Later, I was allowed to join them. It became a tradition.
I very rarely drink sherry now, and found myself wondering why because I am still very fond of it. When did it happen?
Thinking about it, sherry went into decline in the eighties. It wasn't the only tipple to do so. Gin and tonic, another drink that I am very fond of, went into decline at the same time. Eldest works part time in a pub. Now nobody there orders it. Indeed, most pubs don't seem to serve it at all.
Part of the reason for the decline lies in the rise of other drinks. Wine, for example, is now drunk before dinner as well as at dinner. There is a far wider variety of wines and of mixed drinks, including the pre-mixed. In fact, more spirits are drunk now and in a wider variety of forms. However, I think that it is a little more than this.
The type of alcohol drunk was directly related to perceived social status; both dry sherry and gin and tonic were drinks of the "genteel" middle classes; wine, too, was a middle class drink; by contrast, while the ubiquitous beer spanned classes, it was especially a working class drink.
I suspect that the changing drink patterns can be directly linked to the blurring of previous social distinctions, the collapse of previous social structures. The form of alcohol drunk has become a less reliable indicator of social group.