When is a Downing Street cheese and wine party not a Downing Street cheese and wine party?
Prime Minister Boris Johnson — British leader and famous abstentee of late-night cheese — finds himself in a steaming pot of fondue today, 8 December, 2021, after ITV News released video footage of former Downing Street spokesperson Allegra Stratton and government aides laughing and joking about a “boozy party” for 40 people that Johnson and his ministers have been denying ever happened. Stratton, in the footage, responds to an unnamed Downing Street employee who comments “it wasn’t a party, it was cheese and wine...” saying, “Is cheese and wine alright?” She jokes that the event, whatever it was, was not socially distanced.
The official line remains that no such cheese and wine party took place on the evening of 18 December 2020, at a time when tier 3 coronavirus lockdown rules meant that the public could not have parties of their own. But even hypothetical wine and cheese parties need a menu, with ministerial attendees and lobby journalists to match.
So allow Eater London to speculate on the selections and the reasons for those selections:
Cheddar — obviously. In the aftermath of Brexit and with transchannel tensions rising, there’s never been a better time to enjoy a good chalky chunk of Best of British.
Stilton — blue and rotten, isn’t it.
Milleens Dote — soft, hums of cabbage, total coincidence.
Lancashire — for the lads who scaled the red wall, hopped on the West Coast Mainline, and expensed a black cab from Euston to Whitehall.
Babybel — for Dominic Raab.
Fleischkaese — Germanic “meat cheese” for Michael Gove.
Ogleshield — seasonal. Ski season vibes. Like raclette but BRITISH so BETTER!
Berrys Creek Tarwin Blue — a Liz Truss trade deal.
Cheesestrings — for the lobby journalists to share.
Stinking Bishop — a “cheese that develops a distinctive, meaty pungency with age” for the bossman, Johnson.
The Downing Street cellar has been the subject of much reporting in the past: British sparkling wine monoliths Chapel Down and Nyetimber vying to be the official Brexit bubbles. Royal state visits tend to openly mix famous European labels with British upstarts, and this entirely hypothetical list no doubt tended in a similar direction. Ignoble rot, indeed.
Nyetimber — ENGLISH!
Chapel Down — ENGLISH!
Breaky Bottom — ENGLISH and a banter name.
Chin Chin Vinho Verde — for the chins.
Hill of Grace — A famous Australian wine for the new deal, and also something for every attendee to die on.
Penfolds Grange — A Liz Truss trade deal.
Chateau Musar — a Matt Hancock regift.
Ho-Lan-Soul, Reserve Organic Shiraz — A Gavin Williamson Special.
Vintage port — because
it’s a party.
Red grape Shloer — for the bossman, Johnson.
Archer’s — for Grant Schnapps
Warninks Advocaat — for Jacob Rees-Mogg