UK Politics

Government wine cellar: Consumption down by a third

Dusty wine bottles
Image caption Bottles gather dust in the government's wine cellar.

The amount of wine drunk from the government's hospitality cellar fell by almost a third last year.

Ministers said the reduction - from 5,516 to 3,730 bottles - was partly because of disruption to government over the general election period.

The wine cellar, established in 1908, is used for government functions and state events.

In 2015-16, the government sold wine worth £40,390 and purchased stock costing £40,177.

Despite the drop in consumption, the annual statement for the Government Hospitality wine cellar, published by Foreign Office Minister Sir Alan Duncan, shows the cellar still contains over 33,000 bottles of wines and spirits, with a total value of £809,990.

English and Welsh wine were the most commonly served, making up 44% of the total consumed.

In a written statement to MPs, Sir Alan said the wine cellar had been self-funding since 2011-12, through the sale of "high-value stock" and payments from other departments for hospitality services.

The wine sold from the cellar, which is is located beneath Lancaster House near Buckingham Palace, included bottles dating back to 1961 and 1970.

Lib Dem MP Greg Mulholland said: "Official ONS figures show the average household spending £4 a week on wine at home.

"Given this, people will be amazed that over £47,000 worth of bottles were drunk at government events in the last year alone."

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