UK government wine consumption rises by 20%

Wine consumption at UK Government events rose by 20% in the past year, according to its annual wine cellar statement, with 3,935 bottles of wine and spirits drunk – the majority being English and Welsh wines.

Wine or champagne bottles aged in cellar. Close up

The cellar was set up 110 years ago and is located in the basement of Lancaster House in Whitehall, where a total of 33,097 bottles of wine and spirits valued at £3.3m are currently stashed away. Currently the oldest bottles in its stocks is a 1955 bottle of Château Latour, 1er Cru Classé, Pauillac.

Foreign Office minister Sir Alan Duncan said the jump in the number of bottles drunk this year was “due to an increased number of larger events” over the last 12 months.

A total of 3,935 bottles of wine and spirits were consumed, an increase of 20% from 3,261 the year before.

The highest consumption level by volume was of English and Welsh wine, at 57% of the total, compared with 52% in 16/17.

The cellar is self-funding, with an independent body in charge of buying stocks of vintage wine, keeping them for a number of years then selling them at a profit at auction. The money is then used to buy cheaper wine to be drunk at government events that year.

This year, the government sold a number of bottles to Farr Vintners Ltd for a total return of £50,600. This included the sale of 48 bottles of Château Lafite-Rothschild 1988, 6 bottles of Château Haut-Brion 1989, 72 bottles of Château La Fleur Pétrus 1995, 120 bottles of Château Batailley 1996, and 120 bottles of Château Gruaud-Larose 1996.

Further funds from other government departments added £26,494 to overall wine sales by the government.

The cost of new purchases were covered by sales of these wines, and this year amounted to £56,976 (ex VAT), an increase of 26% compared with the £45,042 that was spent in 2016/17. English and Welsh wines accounted for the highest volume, at 64% of the total.

For government receptions, 1440 bottles of Chapel Down Bacchus were purchased, along with 960 bottles of Valpolicella Allegrini 2016.

In addition, a further 900 bottles of English/Welsh sparkling wine were purchased, 504 bottles of English still, 132 bottles of Australian wine, 48 bottles of Canadian wine, 60 bottles of NV Champagne, 192 bottles of New Zealand wine, and 192 bottles of South African wine.

Just 18 bottles of spirits were purchased.

In terms of consumption, English sparkling wines were the most popular, with 495 drunk last year. White wine from the Burgundy region of France was in second place at 247, with red wine from the Bordeaux region in third with 179.

In terms of spirits, 28 bottles of gin were drunk, two bottles of Cognac and just one bottle of whisky.

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