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Delhi Wine Club

Posted: Wednesday, 11 August 2010 10:46

Secrets of Queen’s Wine Cellar

Although India learnt the power of Right to Information (RTI) perhaps from the British Freedom of Information, the British bureaucrats also seem to have found ways of circumventing the requests with the Government Hospitality refusing to share vintages of wines for commercial reasons.

Government Hospitality, a body of the Foreign Office (like our Ministry of External Affairs) which manages the cellar, has published a partial list of wines in response to Freedom of Information requests but has refused to reveal vintages for commercial reasons.

Former Cabinet Office minister and now the Labour MP, Tom Watson has called upon the British PM, David Cameron to ask him to ensure that the contents of the Government wine cellar are made public by over-ruling the decision of the Foreign Office not to publish full details of wines and their vintages being stored in the cellar.

This is part of a long-running campaign by the Labour MP to uncover a complete database of the Government's £864,000 wine stock, since June this year when it was discovered that £18,000 had been spent topping up the queen’s wine cellar after the General Elections. Watson has called for the entire collection to be sold off to raise money.

It has argued that publishing a full stock list would prevent the Government being able to buy wine at a discount from suppliers and could cause "undue influence" in the wine market. The Foreign Office had also refused to conduct an appeal against its decision not to publish the full contents within the recommended 20 days.

High-profile wines from the First Growths of Bordeaux like of Chateaux Latour, Lafite, Margaux and Mouton Rothschild are among the wines in the cellar used for entertaining VIP guests at departmental banquets.

As a contrast, wines or any other alcohol beverages are not allowed to be served in any government function. DelWine has sent a plea to the President of India to allow storing and serving Indian wines at the state banquets, without any effect.  


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