The stupid snobbery of the House of Lords refreshment committee*


It was recently reported that the House of Lords refreshment committee purchased 17,000 bottles of champagne costing £260,000 from 2010 onwards. Suggestions of buying cheaper champagne fell on deaf ears.

A few years ago, loved ones once treated me to a wine tasting with famous wine and drink expert Oz Clarke. OK, it was in a big room with a hundred other people but I was down the front and treated to the full gamma rays of Mr Clarke’s wonderful wit and wisdom. Plastic corks or screw tops are better than cork corks – was one of his pearls of insight.

But old Oz reserved particular venom for a full-on rant about champagne. The gist was: you can spend (2000 prices) £30 on a bottle of champagne or £3 on a bottle of cava. They are exactly the same. So why pay £27 extra for exactly the same thing? You are paying £27 for a hundred years of advertising which has convinced people that sparkling wine from one region is better than another sparkling wine from elsewhere. More fool you. By all means buy it for a special birthday or anniversary but, otherwise, don’t waste your money.

So, the House of Lords refreshment committee have wasted a pile of our dosh (at £15.29 a bottle) simply for the snob value of seeing (or not seeing) the word “champagne” on a label. They could have bought any sparkling wine, my preference would be for British sparkling wine, saved a fortune, and no one would have known the difference.

*UPDATE 12/11/14: Please also read this post which gives the other side of this story. My headline and article above are misleading on their own. The champagne is bought and resold through the extensive House of Lords private catering operation. The peers are not swigging this stuff, I am informed. I apologise for misleading in this single post above but hopefully I have now reflected the whole story on this and the second post.

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One thought on “The stupid snobbery of the House of Lords refreshment committee*

  1. Paul,

    On the other hand, the people who drink the champagne may rather want to drink champagne rather than cava. That is their choice, if they wish to pay for it. And, given that catering for outside groups in the Lords generates a profit of about £1 million a year – and they drink quite a lot of that champagne – it strikes me as rather a false economy.

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