Michael Greenberg wrote:HOWEVER--in his article RAY has the effrontery to suggest that the range of wines in Britain is finer than anywhere else in the World
What effrontery ? The range of wines for sale in the UK, both in store and online, is more extensive than anywhere else in the world.
With regard to European wines, don't forget that the English wine trade has for hundreds of years either owned or has bought from estates in Bordeaux and Burgundy, the Douro valley in Portugal, Jerez for sherry and brandy and the Marsala estates in Sicily.
About 25-30 years ago wines from California, Australia, New Zealand and South America were first marketed in the UK. Californian wines were sold under the Paul Masson brand in carafes. The quality of this wine was so poor that it has more or less permanently damaged the image of Californian wines in the UK. Wines from Anzac, Chile and Argentina not only tasted good but were sold in proper bottles with good-looking labels.
The major supermarket chains not only have some pretty astute wine buyers but now sell some very fine wines. Tesco sells more wines than any other retailer in the world. Like Marks & Spencer and Shell Oil ( started by the Samuel family ) Tesco was started by a Jewish family. TE Stockwell was a tea supplier in the 1920s who sold a consignment to Jack Cohen. Stockwell supplied the TES and Cohen the CO. The Jewish connection has long since faded. Tesco, Sainsburys, Waitrose buy up vast amounts of vintages from all over the world.
As for idiosyncracy you could accuse any wine reviewer of that. There is always an element of subjectivity. I suspect from looking at wine websites in the US that a similar US wine list would include much the same wines as in The Times 100 list, maybe with a few more Californian or other US wines, but comprising no more than a third of the total.
Out of interest read Jancis Robinson on Tesco and other supermarkets at http://www.jancisrobinson.com/articles/20071016_12