The announcement that the wine cellar of the UK government is worth nearly £800,000 has some people up in arms over questions of extravagance. The government's cellar has over 39,000 bottles of wine including around 500 bottles of spirits and liqueurs for a total of £792,000. Liberal Democrat MP Don Foster was quoted in the BBC News
as saying that the huge cellar shows that the government is living 'beyond its means'. Figures show that the ministers spent a total of £5 million on wining and dining including more than £100,000 toward maintaining Whitehall wine cellar, stocking it with vintage and non-vintage Champagne, red Bordeaux and white Burgundy wine.
By contrast, according to a recent article on Slate
, the White House currently stocks around 500-600 bottles although, as commenters below have pointed out, it's not exactly an apt comparison. The official Whitehall cellar which is in the vaults of Lancaster house is meant to serve the entertainment needs of all the ministers. But as the Slate article points out, French-wine-loving Thomas Jefferson once had around 20,000 bottles in his Presidential cellar under what is now the West Wing. In more recent years, U.S. Presidents have made an effort to showcase U.S. wines. These days most wine-producing countries opt to serve the wines created in the country at state meals.