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Delhi Wine Club

Posted: Tuesday, 22 June 2010 15:44

UK Government Loves French Wines

According to details released by the UK External Affairs Ministry, the government hospitality cellar has a stock of over 37,500 bottles valued at around £864,000 with 80% of the stocks being from France with Bordeaux, Burgundy, Rhone, Loire, Champagne and Alsace, including high profile wines from First growth Chateaux like Latour, Lafite and Mouton Rothschild.

This also reflects why over 70% of the wines are red- 25,883 to be precise.1,779 bottles of champagne, 6,828 of white and a significant 2,975 of fortified wines- historically the English love their Sherry, Port and Madeira as also the Champagne and great Bordeaux. A symbolic 2% of the wines are from UK wineries.

Details were released by Foreign Office minister Henry Bellingham in response to parliamentary questions. Almost £18,000 have been spent topping up the government wine cellar since the General Election last month .

Although the database is not released into the public domain because of the likely impact on the future pricing, the government claims to follow the practice of buying wines young when they are cheap, thus saving money.

"Government Hospitality (GH) in Protocol Directorate of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has responsibility for the management of the stock in the Government wine cellar," Mr Bellingham reportedly said. 

There has been a mounting criticism for purchasing wines for the cellar when the economy was not in great shape. However, the government defends its existence since it is considered a vital part of diplomacy to use only the very best wine from the very best vineyards.

Needless to say one does not need RTI  (right to information) Act in India to find out that there is no such cellar or even the tradition of serving wine or any alcohol beverages at formal government dinners. The British left us the legacy of bureaucracy and babus, whiskey and rum, but took the concept of the wine cellar  and serving wine at the official dinners with them. Government officially bans serving of wine and alcohol at such events.


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