Bridget Jones turned Chardonnay into the classy drink it is today

Once upon a time, Chardonnay was Britain’s favourite wine and a must for any sophisticated soiree.

But when, inspired by a TV character, mothers named babies after it, and flashy wine bars served it in goldfish bowl-sized glasses, the writing was on the wall.

Chardonnay went from being sought after to frightfully naff, with the very people who’d been knocking it back by the gallon claiming never to have liked it in the first place.

But now, after years in the wilderness, the wine is finding favour – and flavour – again. Chardonnay is back, thanks to an Australian-led charge and a tweak to the wine’s taste to suit palates seeking a less oaky flavour.

Sales are up. According to latest figures, 18 per cent more Britons are drinking the wine this year than in 2014, and Tesco has shifted twice as much of its £6.79 Macon Villages Blanc in the same period.

So why did Chardonnay lose favour – and how did it stage a comeback?

The Chardonnay grape has been around for centuries and though its most famous home is the Burgundy region of France, it’s now produced in almost every wine-making country.

Its popularity exploded in the 1980s with the arrival of New World wines, specifically those from Australia with their consumer-friendly labels that revealed the grape variety on the bottle’s front.

Flavours were big, bright, bold and fruity – and in the case of Chardonnay, often oaky, too. The number of Chardonnay vineyards more than quadrupled, mostly due to extensive planting of new vines in France and Australia.

Pubs started selling more wine, with drinkers swapping their beer and G&Ts for Chardonnay.

By the Nineties, all wine lists offered the wine by the glass, and we were importing almost eight million bottles from Australia alone. And along with Bridget Jones, who declared it her favourite tipple, we drank buckets of it.