The UK government has defended its record on English wine by saying that it buys more homegrown wines for its hospitality events than from any other nation.
Figures show that English wine accounted for 1,500 of the 3,052 bottles bought for the UK government’s hospitality cellar in the 2016/17 tax year, and that 52 per cent of wine consumed at ‘high profile receptions’ was English.
Ten years ago, just 20 per cent of wines served at these events were from England, said the Foreign Office, which manages the cellar.
Its release of the figures follows criticism from some quarters over the amount of government support given to the UK wine industry, which has won several high-profile awards in recent years. English sparkling wine has been served at official functions for several years.
‘The UK produces some of the finest wines in the world, and the Foreign Office is committed to showcasing them to a global market,’ said a spokesperson for the Foreign Office.
‘Our food and drink products are more popular than ever and we will continue to do all we can to support this vital sector, and create new export opportunities.’
Whilst the majority of wines produced in the UK are sparkling, the Government’s wine cellar is also serving English still whites and rosés to guests.
Efforts from the trade
‘Earlier in the year, we urged Government departments to ‘Serve British’ and it’s great to hear that the FCO is stocking, serving and therefore supporting English wine,’ said Miles Beale, CEO of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association.
Earlier in the year, a bill was proposed to Parliament to make British embassies serve UK wines.
‘There has been a concerted move by the industry, the producers and huge support of WSTA over the last years to encourage Government to serve British products and in so doing, show their support for the fantastic food and drink industry that we have,’ said Julia Trustram-Eve, of trade body UK Wine Producers.
‘It’s great to see that both FCO and overseas missions are now serving English wine and flying the flag for our exciting industry.’
Criticisms of English wine
Not everyone is such a fan, however.
Chef Marco Pierre-White is reported to have said ‘English wine is nonsense’ and that only a ‘numpty’ would buy it, at the launch of one of his restaurants this weekend.
‘Of course everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but there are many more fellow restaurateurs who would beg to differ, and do list English wines,’ said Julia Trustram-Eve.