Government purchase of wine increases by £26,000

A view into the government's wine cellar

image copyrightHenry Clarke Price

The government’s wine cellars were topped up to the tune of £73,000 last year – an increase of £26,000 on the year before, latest figures reveal.

The wine cellar – run by the Foreign Office – stores alcohol to be served at government events and receptions.

Since 2011, the cellar has been funded by the sale of high-value wines and payments from government departments.

The government said the spending rise “reflects the fluctuations in currency rates and the needs of the cellar”.

In a written statement to Parliament to accompany the latest review of the cellar, the Foreign Office described it as “self-funding”.

The extensive collection, made up of tens of thousands of bottles, is kept under a grand central London mansion, Lancaster House, which is owned by the Queen but leased to the government.

English wines

There were no sales of wines in the financial year to 2020 – something the government attributes to the pandemic.

But it said other government departments added £23,220 to the year’s overall receipts through payments for wines provided at departmental functions.

While spending increased, the volume of wine consumed between 2019 and 2020 fell 17.5% compared to the year before.

Almost three-quarters of the purchased wine and over half of the wine consumed was English.

Both of these figures represented an increase from 2018-19.