back to article Bordeaux-no! Wine guzzling at UK.gov events rises 20%

Amid frenzied Brexit preparations in 2017-18, government-hosted parties slurped up 20 per cent more wine than the previous year – as European plonk purchases reached a bottleneck. The corking stat is revealed in the latest annual report (PDF) on the Government Hospitality Wine Cellar, which is located under Lancaster House and …

  1. N2 Silver badge
    Trollface

    Perhaps

    They should be watered according to their abilities?

    In which case, they wouldn't get the steam off my pee.

  2. Khaptain Silver badge

    Official Figures

    Now I would like to see the unofficial figures because due to the apparent capacity of some of these "politicians" I wouldn't be surprised to learn that they begin their wine sessions very early in the morning and finish only when they can no longer get the glass to the lips.

    The only difference between them and the veritable "winos" is the fact that they get paid to drink.

  3. Xenu

    I hope they don't ever show Juncker around. Also why the hell are we paying for civil servants to get plastered on super expensive plonk? You can bet they aren't drinking tesco £5 bottles.

  4. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

    Also why the hell are we paying for civil servants to get plastered on super expensive plonk?

    Why the hell are we paying for them to drink alcohol at all. Presumably they are drinking this while working in some capacity or another. In my employment, we have a strict 'no alcohol in the workplace' policy to ensure that everyone is clear-headed, focusing on their jobs and so minimising the risk of cock-ups.

  5. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    I hope they don't ever show Juncker around.

    His consumption capabilities are overrated.

    At least half of the occasions where he was recorded in a supposedly inebriated state, the reason was inability to sense/move his legs properly. He needs a wheelchair half of the time nowdays. All of that is a fallout from being for weeks in a coma after a car accident in 1989.

    It is of course much easier to assume the course preferred by the Daily Mail and some of the more extreme Russian media (strange bedfellows aren't they) and paint a picture of him being an alcoholic.

    As far as the cellar going empty I would be more worried if they let Boyko there than Juncker. Being Bulgarian he can probably drink the rest of the state heads of the commission under the table and walk out for a run as if nothing happened.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hans might be in one of those workplaces were strict no alcohol makes perfect sense (bus depot, operating theatre etc.).

    I'm not.... cheers everyone :-)

  7. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

    Daily Mail and some of the more extreme Russian media (strange bedfellows aren't they)

    Not really - they have a remarkably similar world-view..

  8. Paul Crawford Silver badge
    Pint

    Valpolicella Allegrini

    The Valpolicella Allegrini is actually a pretty decent wine, and they do a couple of others of note (I was at a tasting once where one of the Allegrini wine maker was present to show off her wines).

    Feeling like I need this sized glass of wine today =>

  9. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

    I don't get the obsession with European wine. They aren't as good, in my ill-informed opinion, as new world wines.

    That is at a lower price point. I do wonder if the cost of French wines is largely down to prestige rather than taste.

  10. Khaptain Silver badge

    "I do wonder if the cost of French wines is largely down to prestige rather than taste."

    I would suggest that the French really do make world class wines, they have the experience and the know how.

    BUT, you have to know in advance what you want, expect, for what occasion, with which food etc....

    Not all French wines are good, far from it, most of them are pretty poor. But, when it comes to the top class bottles then there really is no question of prestige, it all comes down to what floats your boat.

    I have drank some very expensive wine, even the same wine on different occasions ( read : with different food) and the taste can change drastically.

    I have also drink excellent, first class Portugese, Spanish , Argentinian, South African wines which are easilly on the same level as the French Wines. Even this week I was in Marocco and was very pleasantly surpised to drink some very fine local wine there.

    The French have prestige because they can constantly make good wine, the selection is enormous and the massive regional choice ensures that there will always be good French wine..

    As far as price goes, forget it, it is not an indication of quality.

    Golden Rule : never buy for the ticket buy for your palate. If you like it then it's a good wine, if you don't , try another bottle :-)

  11. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    I don't get the obsession with European wine.

    There is European wine and European wine. European != French. Or Italian for that matter.

    You should never forget that the wine was NOT INVENTED IN FRANCE and till this days some of the wines from where it WAS invented, namely the Thracian valley put pretty much any French wine to shame. There are Spanish wines that are of similar standards, ditto for Croatian, Serbian, Georgian, Greek, Lebanese and Turkish.

    Compared to all of them New World is horse piss and there is a reason for this. New World grapes have evolved to be Phylloxera resistant. Part of the price for that is taste. Real, relic (or crosses bred with relics) from the Old World which you can find in the regions listed above taste way better. They are however quite rare and they do not come cheap. The yields due to the prevalence of Phylloxera imported from USA in Europe are quite low even if the relic or cross-breed is grafted on a US grape root.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Philistines.

    Everyone knows the best wine is Lambrini as it goes perfectly with the food of the gods, the Donner kebab.

    Everything else is just a pale imitation.

  13. ElReg!comments!Pierre

    cost of French wines

    Short answer: yes. Long answer: no.

    TL.DR blurb :

    Well, as a French national with a wide experience in international wine-tasting (hobby, not pro), most of the VERY expensive bottles are mostly prestige. However, there is a fundamental gap between how French people (and international experts) rate wines, and how French wine is sold to the hapless prestige-seeking anglosaxon crowd. In France you will absolutely not buy a "Merlot" or a "Cabernet" or anysuch, unless you're looking for a cheap cocktail mixer or a way to get drunk for cheap. You'll look for local "terroir" denominations, which are very specific and VERY seriously enforced, some spanning only a few hectares. Within these you'll look for a specific wine-maker. This winemaker will often offer you one or several "special" cuvées made of grapes from patches as small as a few hundred square meters, because the soil and sun exposure there makes the wine different (you may or may not like the difference; the choice is yours). When "seriously" buying wine, it is customary to go around the place and sample stuff from most of the winemakers in the area before making your choice. For the city-bound folks, relying on intricate stock-exchange-like guides is common.

    Of course, then comes the price. Some Bourgognes and Bordeaux can be absolutely magnificent, but don't expect a low-price one to be any better than a random New World wine. In fact, in the low-price range, I would STRONGLY advise against Bourgogne or Bordeaux. If you MUST go French, look into the Loir (not Loire) valley, a lot of interesting stuff going there at the moment in the "light wines" category. And why not look into your own local production ? I hear the Adrian Wall is not the absolute north limit for winemaking anymore.

    In short, there is no such thing as "a good wine". There are wines you like and ones you don't. There are times and moods, and wines to go with (If I was to cheaply woo a Tyne and Wear lady used to Newcastle Brown, I'd pull out an unnamed Merlot from southeastern France and some chocolate, for example -OK, don't push, I'm leaving already)

  14. N2 Silver badge

    Re: Bordeaux-no! Wine guzzling at UK.gov events rises 20%

    'That is at a lower price point. I do wonder if the cost of French wines is largely down to prestige rather than taste.'

    I think what we consider everyday wines: Sauvignon blanc, Merlot & Muscadet etc in France are almost tripled in price in the UK which makes the NW wine much more attractive. Supermarket wine being generally ready for drinking now or won't mature any more although some can be kept a couple of years. It's a bit of a long running joke that inferior wine gets exported but not so in recent years, about 25 which is recent as far as wine is concerned. A lot of French drink vin de table, grown locally, its ordinary stuff and tastes anything up to quite good depending what your expectations are for a euro a litre.

    As for the better stuff, unless you have deep pockets the best way to buy is 'en primeur' from a producteur where you can taste then store it in your cellar/cave. Theres ample opportunity to sample your favourite chateaus look for 'Portes Ouvertes' and promos for Hangar 54 in Bordeaux for example. Whilst some watch the harvest & weather reports etc. A very small number of producteurs will try and sell a bit higher than the supermarkets but a gentle reminder generally gets the better rates and don't expect a discount on one bottle!

    Not all expensive wine is good and not all cheap wine is inferior, because next to a lot of grand chateaux is a small producteur who probably worked for said chateau but now makes his own variant on similair terrior (land) but I suspect the UK govt like most things, buys from the most expensive merchant.

    My 10 cts after 48 years of drinking the stuff, hic.

  15. JRW

    I think the Khaptain speaks a lot of sense. I know a little bit about French wine and less about all the rest. My solution is to get help.

    There are non-national operators like Cambridge Wine Merchants, I use Naked Wine and the folk at Majestic have made me some good recommendations when I've popped in there. Other outlets are available.

    Don't forget Aldi and Lidl. If you know what you like they have some fantastic deals, but they won't help you find your new favourite wine variety like a good specialist.

    With the right advice you can get a great bottle of wine for around £10. A poor choice at any price will disappoint.

  16. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

    Re: Bordeaux-no! Wine guzzling at UK.gov events rises 20%

    The government's wine collection is actually self funding due old wine increasing in price allowing them to buy a job lot of new bottles which will be sold in future decades.

  17. tiggity Silver badge

    @Voland's right hand

    A lot of the flavour of a wine does not have to be influenced by the grape "qualities"

    The properties of the yeast used make a huge difference.

    The correct yeast used on chardonnay grapes can produce a wine that has the fruity, gooseberry taste of a sauvignon blanc and lacks the classic buttery chardonnay taste.

    Same for yeast affecting other drinks, e.g. beers - if brewery has multiple locations a good head brewer can tell from the taste of a beer which location produced it by the subtle differences of that locations yeast.

    There are yeasts people have played around with that can produce alcoholic drinks that taste like banana milkshake (New Scientist had a good article on this a while ago)

  18. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

    I don't get the obsession with European wine. They aren't as good, in my ill-informed opinion, as new world wines

    Depends on the vineyard and winemaker.. Judging/dismissing a whole region is somewhat akin to judging a whole nationality.

  19. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

    never buy for the ticket buy for your palate

    Many years ago I had a (very, very good) American boss. He always used to order Chateauneuf Du Pape (on the basis that our French colleagues had recommended it). I like CNP but it is a tad expensive..

    So, one day, I steered him in the direction of Rioja. He switched to drinking that thereafter. Pick a good one and they have easily the quality of CNP.

    My wine taste varies - sometimes I fancy a good Portugese wine, sometimes a fairly cheap French one. Other times, a rough-and-ready Italian chianti.

  20. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

    from where it WAS invented, namely the Thracian valley

    Pretty sure that various other countries were making wine before Thrace was even a thing.. Pikiwedia seems to suggest[1] that the oldest archological evidence of wine is China, followed by Georgia, followed by Iran..

    None of which are Thracia.

    [1] If you trust 'the encyclopedia that any nutter can edit'..

  21. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

    Re: cost of French wines

    I hear the Adrian Wall is not the absolute north limit for winemaking anymore

    Amusingly, some of the English white sparking wines (don't call them Champagne even though the Champagne method was invented here..) scored higher than Champagne in a blind taste test. By French judges..

    British red wine isn't really there yet - despite our summers getting warmer, we still don't get the degrees of time and intensity of sunlight needed to really generate a full-bodied red wine. Some of the vineyard in Kent make perfectly quaffable light reds though. And very, very good white wines, sparking or otherwise.

    There are wines you like and ones you don't. There are times and moods, and wines to go with

    This is so true. One persons fine wine is anothers vinegar.. (my wife, for example, doesn't like light, acidic reds. Sometimes I do..). But we agree on a number of wines - two of them are even French (Cabalie and Rex Mundi[1] - both full reds from the Cathar region of France)

    [1] Given my beliefs, I probably shouldn't like a wine named after a belief from the Cathar version of Gnosticism.. but I do

  22. x 7 Silver badge

    Re: cost of French wines

    "even though the Champagne method was invented here."

    Debatable

    The champagne method was first documented as being used in Somerset (for cider, not wine), but at a Clunaic (i.e. French controlled) abbey. They may well have been using a process with a much earlier, undocumented, origin

  23. CheesyTheClown Silver badge

    This is true

    I've met polite people from France.

    I've actually met pretty girls from England

    I've met Finnish people who understand sarcasm

    I've met American's who aren't entirely binary in every one of their beliefs

    I haven't bothered with American wines in the past 20 years, though I know they have improved.

    I generally drink Spanish wine (Marquee De Caceras, Faustino I) as they are compatible with my food preference.

    I have a fridge full of Dom Perignon I have been collecting for 20 years to serve at my children's weddings.

    The one thing I can be sure of though... booze is simply too strong these days and it's ruining it across all international borders. When I read comments from the UK about people who work in places where booze is permitted or not, I'm generally shocked. Having a glass of wine based on 1950's and earlier standards would be similar to a 3-5% alcohol and it may have even been watered as well. These days, at 13% and higher, the person drinking it probably is useless for a while afterwards.

    Also, a glass of wine in the 1950's was considerably smaller than it is today. Having a glass of wine with lunch really didn't provide enough alcohol to consider. Today however, people are basically getting buzzed at lunch.

    I would love to see a return to when "drinking wine" or "table wine" was a good idea. Just enough alcohol to make the flavor work, but not enough to get blasted. I've had terrible experiences with modern wines. They all taste like alcohol. It's almost as if we judging the quality of a drink based on how well we believe it will mess us up. I wonder if the European nations still remember how to make wine properly and if they could actually create wines that earned their merits on flavor as opposed to toxicity.

  24. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    The yields due to the prevalence of Phylloxera imported from USA in Europe are quite low even if the relic or cross-breed is grafted on a US grape root.

    One more thing.

    It is partly that and partly the fact that Phylloxera cannot survive environment like this or this. Very sandy soil and dry climate are deadly for its larvae. There are similar places in Spain, Greece, etc. Nearly all of them are renowned for having phenomenal wine. It is for a reason - in these regions the real grapes of old have survived while in France they were nearly wiped out in the 19th century.

    In any case, I would not expect any of that to be served at a Whitehall dinner. I suspect they are serving French because it is French or British for Union Jack colours as a reason.

  25. Roger Kynaston

    tricky

    I am emphatically not an expert except in transferring contents of bottle to glass and then to stomach. There is certainly an argument that 'old world' wines have traded on their reputation for quite a while. I am not so sure though. As I am almost certainly never going to be able to afford a premier cru I am not going to be able to compare it with an equally expensive Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon. I have had some god awful plonk with fancyish european labels and some exquisite new world wine that cost less. Most recently though the best wines I have tried were a Mas de la Plana from Penedes and a Bulgarian red the name of which has slipped my mind.

    With regard to the question of civil servants getting pissed on the taxpayers money - I suppose that if they are they should have the opportunity to do so with decent plonk. Decent plonk being defined as being good value for money of course.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And that's not bloody surprising man!

    @CheesyTheClown; "I've met polite people from France. I've actually met pretty girls from England. I've met Finnish people who understand sarcasm. I've met American's who aren't entirely binary in every one of their beliefs."

    I've danced with ten foot pygmies in a Montezuma hall. I've met the King of China and a working Yorkshire miner- but I've never met a nice South African!

  27. Teiwaz Silver badge

    Going by recent Gov sponsored Health advisories

    Taxpayers money on alcohol?

    Perhaps the Gov should be walking the walk on the old 'no amount is healthy' lines that have been spewed out of late at the secret behest of some group or other with an agenda.

    The rest of us don't get to even have the occasional liquid lunch anymore, lest it be considered to hamper the productivity of the nation in some fashion.

  28. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

    Re: Going by recent Gov sponsored Health advisories

    Perhaps the Gov should be walking the walk on the old 'no amount is healthy' lines that have been spewed out of late

    Amusingly, the British Heart Foundation (and the NHS) recommend that a glass[1] of red wine a day is really good for your heart.. They do, annoyingly, suggest that a daily limit of 3 units (and at least two days a weeks with no alcohol) is in order as well.

    [1] Does a bottle count as a glass?

  29. Marco van de Voort

    Chef!

    .... After English and Welsh sparkling wine

    The scenes from Chef! (Lenny Henry) when he goes to France with bottles of English wine and the French ROTFL suddenly come back into focus again :-)

  30. Tom 7 Silver badge

    Re: Chef!

    I has guzzled quite a lot of the fizzy stuff in my time - some of which I have even bought. I live not far from the Camel Valley which produces some bubbly that has won international competitions. IMHO its better than anything the Champagne region can offer for twice the price - indeed my father in law has about 1/2 mile of french wine in his cellar and normally provides pop for events is well impressed with it. My rich relatives from California are also very impressed with it.

    I've had glasses of other 'premium' english pop and it seems mostly pretty good.

    If you remade the Chef nowadays with Lenny taking english pop over the French would sober up sharpish.

    I must confess I'd rather celebrate with a pint of scruttocks old dirigible myself ( I likes what I likes) but people feel obliged to follow fashion.

  31. Paul Crawford Silver badge

    Re: Chef!

    Some of the English fizz is actually very good, and at a recent blind-compare Champaign versus sparkling wine tasting I was at they were pretty much on a par according to most of those present. As always, chose a wine based on two simple test results:

    1) You like the taste.

    2) You are prepared to pay the corresponding price.

    Simplez!

  32. Tom 7 Silver badge

    Re: Chef!

    One thing I just remembered it some English wine in Lidl's - a couple of quid a bottle IIRC - is not particularly palatable but if you use it for deglazing your Sunday roast dish the gravy from it is actually VERY improved,

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fire up the Soda Stream, I've another vatful of uri... I mean "grape juice"

    @Tom 7; "If you remade the Chef nowadays with Lenny taking english pop over the French would sober up sharpish."

    "When I said I was going to become a comedian, they all laughed. Well, they're not laughing now, are they?"

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Quelle suprise

    "Amid frenzied Brexit preparations in 2017-18, government-hosted parties slurped up 20 per cent more wine than the previous year"

    Meanwhile, in other stories I'm reading today, retailers such as Majestic Wines are stockpiling the same stuff - in preparation for when the deals being struck inevitably cause trade disruption to everybody else's supply.

  35. Alister Silver badge

    so you might say there's been something of a Cabernet reshuffle.

    You should burn in hell for that...

    :)

  36. rebecca_hill (Written by Reg staff)

    I stand by it

  37. Mike Moyle Silver badge

    "so you might say there's been something of a Cabernet reshuffle.

    You should burn in hell for that..."

    I knew someone would jump on that, just as shiraz you're born!

  38. x 7 Silver badge

    An average of £90.90 / bottle?

    Someone must be having a laugh

  39. electricmonk

    Canada?

    Woah, back up there a minute. Fine wines from Canada? Really?

  40. malfeasance

    Re: Canada?

    Yes, Ice Wine. Might not be your bag if you don't like dessert wine, but it's a wine; some think it's fine.

  41. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

    Re: Canada?

    Yes, Ice Wine. Might not be your bag if you don't like dessert wine

    Too much sugar for me - even in my pre-diabetes/heart attack days..

  42. Bitsminer

    Re: Canada?

    Yep. But production is tiny. One vineyard in Chile is larger than all the vineyards of British Columbia together.

    (About 4000 ha/10,000 acres)

    It's really good. And we're not sharing!

  43. fatbuddha

    nice to see Chapel Down Bacchus as one of the Reception wines. serioulsy good plonk from one of my local vineyards that have somecracking wines in their range. if you can get hold of some of their Flint Dry, then do so - lush! they also have an excellent restaurant at their vineyard.

  44. aberglas

    33,000 bottles of wine worth 3,000,000 quid?

    That is an average of 100 pounds/bottle.

    They drink a lot better than I do!

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