Houses of parliament MP's drinking Wine. Winewizard Aerator.

The Wine Cellar of the Houses of Parliament: A Hidden Gem

The Houses of Parliament, located in Westminster, London, is a historic building known for its iconic clock tower and its role as the center of British political life. But, hidden deep within the building, there is another gem that is less well-known: the wine cellar. In this blog, we will explore the history and significance of the wine cellar of the Houses of Parliament.

The history of the wine cellar:

The wine cellar of the Houses of Parliament has been in existence for centuries and has played an important role in British political life for just as long. It was initially used to store wine for the monarchy and was later expanded to serve the needs of the House of Commons and the House of Lords. The cellar has also been used as a secure location to store valuable documents and artifacts, and as a meeting place for political leaders and dignitaries.

The wine collection:

The wine cellar of the Houses of Parliament is home to a collection of fine wines from around the world, including some of the most sought-after vintages from France, Italy, and Spain. The collection also includes a wide range of Champagnes, brandies, and fortified wines. The wines are carefully selected and stored to ensure their quality and longevity, and are used for special events and occasions, such as state dinners and parliamentary receptions.

The role of the wine cellar today:

Today, the wine cellar of the Houses of Parliament continues to play an important role in British political life. It is used for official events and receptions, and is also available for private tours and tastings for members of the public. The wine cellar serves as a symbol of the rich history and tradition of the Houses of Parliament, and provides a unique glimpse into the world of fine wine and British political life.

The Government Wine Cellar (GWC) is a provider of wine to support the hospitality work of the United Kingdom's government. It was founded in 1908 and since 1922 has been housed in a cellar of Lancaster House in London. The cellar is estimated to contain around 39,000 bottles of wine and spirits estimated at a value of over £2 million.

The cellar is managed day-to-day by the Government Butler and is overseen by the head of Government Hospitality coming under the jurisdiction of the Foreign Office. It was originally stocked on the advice of the Government Hospitality Advisory Committee for the Purchase of Wine, a quango that was abolished in 2010.[1]Before its abolition, the committee met two or three times a year in the cellar, around a table carved from an elm tree that blew down in St James's Park in around 1830. The role of the committee was to taste the wines, make recommendations for new purchases to keep the cellar stocked, and to sell a portion on the open market to fund the restocking process. They also graded the wines and offered serving suggestions.[2]

Since 2010 cellar has been stocked according to recommendations from a specialist committee of Masters of Wine, chaired by a former diplomat.[2] Aside from the Government Butler, access to the cellar is strictly limited to Permanent Secretaries and Ministers.[3][4]

The wine is served according to a complex system. Ministers are asked to give their preferences when they take office. Food being served at the banquet or function is usually factored in. National sensitivities and customs are also considered – for example when there is a Chinese delegation vintages from 1988 are used, as '8' is considered a lucky number in China.[5]

The cellar includes wines from Château Lafite, Cheval Blanc, Cos d’Estournel, Mouton Rothschild and Le Pin. It had previously held over seventeen different types of Champagne including a magnum of Champagne Krug 1964 and still holds such valuable spirits as an 1878 Grand Fins Bois Cognac and 1931 Quinta do Noval Port. English and Welsh wines are estimated to make up 44% of all those served in 2016, including Nyetimber’s demi-sec. The Foreign Office have stated that the most the cellar has ever spent on a single bottle of wine is £100.

The wine cellar of the Houses of Parliament is a hidden gem that is steeped in history and tradition. With its collection of fine wines and its role in British political life, the wine cellar serves as a reminder of the importance of wine in our society and the role it has played in shaping the history of our world. Whether you are a wine lover, a history buff, or simply someone who appreciates the finer things in life, a visit to the wine cellar of the Houses of Parliament is sure to be a memorable experience.

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