The UK government has continued to ramp up its purchase and consumption of English and Welsh wine, which made up 57% of the wine drunk at official receptions in the year to March, a new report shows.
UK government consumption of English and Welsh wine increases
The Government Hospitality Wine Cellar has been self-funding since 2011/12, raising money for new purchases by selling off fine wine and receiving payments from government departments.
The seventh Annual Report, released by Foreign Office Minister Sir Alan Duncan, reveals that the cellar sold £50,600-worth of stock to Farr Vintners during the year – all of it red Bordeaux and including vintages of Châteaux Lafite-Rothschild, Haut-Brion, La Fleur Pétrus, Batailley and Gruaud-Larose.
It purchased stock worth £56,976 (excluding VAT), 64% of it English or Welsh wine, with the highest-volume purchases 120 cases of Chapel Down Bacchus and 80 cases of Allegrini Valpolicella 2016 – in both cases, wine used at government receptions. The cellar also received £26,494 in payments from other government departments.
Other purchases included 900 bottles of English or Welsh sparkling wine, just over 500 bottles of English still wine, as well as wines from Australia, Canada, Champagne, New Zealand and South Africa – plus 18 bottles of gin to partially replace the 28 bottles consumed during the year.
Some 57% of the wine consumed at official functions was English or Welsh – up from 52% in 2016/17, while overall consumption was up by 20% to almost 4,000 bottles of wine and spirits due, Sir Alan said, to ‘an increased number of larger events’.
Just over a decade ago, English and Welsh wine made up only 20% of the wines served at official events, leading to accusations that the government was failing to support its own wine industry.
While the Foreign & Commenwealth Office (FCO) has worked to redress the balance since then, less seems to have been done to support Scotch whisky – a multi-billion-pound export industry.
The report reveals that the equivalent of only one bottle of Scotch was consumed at official events last year – half a bottle of Johnnie Walker Black Label and half a bottle of Caol Ila 18 Year Old – and that more Cognac was consumed during the year.