The House of Commons authorities are tendering a new contract to supply the Palace of Westminster with a "global selection" of the best wines "on a regular basis at competitive prices". According to the tendering details, "the House of Commons is seeking a selection of wines designed for the On-trade and not widely available on the High Street".
The Sun, with Pecksniffian piety, brands that final requirement "pompous". Clearly the clever-clogs extend the effort of researching what "On-trade" means. Yet that's by the by. Journalists regularly get away with these things. The Sun also describes Parliament's bars and restaurants as "swanky", and on that count they really ought to know better, spending as much time as they do in them. Cheap and cheerful, yes; plentiful, indeed; but swanky?
Let's dig into it a little bit more. The wine contract is worth £420,000 over two years. With approximately 2,000 workers on the parliamentary estate, not to mention its many visitors, that works out at well under 30 pence per day.
How many Fleet Street dailies could say they get by without their hacks spending under 30 pence a day on wine?
The bars of Westminster, within and without Parliament itself, are often teeming with journalists. One such favourite is El Vino's, founded by a certain family called Mitchell. Yes, that Andrew Mitchell. The irony.
We'd almost be tempted to apply, given that finding special wines not available on the High Street (or even on these shores) is our Red Squirrel Wine rationale. Given our relatively low overheads and fair pricing policy, we can do "competitive prices".
Yet the advertisement also stipulates "suppliers should have experience of supply into Hotels, Restaurants, Private Members Clubs, Conference and Banqueting", amid sundry other details. Leave aside the peculiarly Germanic capitalisation of nouns, the House of Commons advert is obviously looking for a more established wine supplier.