As what the royals drank at the wedding last week was revealed (Pol Roger – shocker! Not English Sparkling Wine), we found another story about our future king and what he puts in the tank of his car…
We should probably begin with the fairly important disclaimer that Prince Charles definitely has never been caught drink driving. And even if he had, we’re reasonably sure that Winerist wouldn’t be too concerned about reporting on it. What we are very interested in reporting, however, is the rather unusual fuel source that the Prince of Wales uses to power his 38-year-old Aston Martin DB5. Namely, wine! The eco-friendly prince is a famous advocate for tackling environmental issues and practises what he preaches in a whole variety of ways, including the use of our favourite drink as biofuel.
Wine powered cars – the way of the future?
Wine lovers, please don’t be alarmed. Charles definitely isn’t sneakily borrowing bottles of Châteauneuf-du-Pape or Margaux from the Buckingham Palace dinner table and decanting them directly into the fuel tank. Actually, the process is quite ingenious:
It all began in 2008, when Europe found itself with approximately 18.5 million hectolitres of surplus wine (1 hectolitre = 100 litres) which couldn’t be sold or exported as it was too low-grade for our sophisticated palates. It was in fact an English winery located in Gloucester which hit upon the notion of selling a cool 8,000 surplus litres of English white wine to a neighbouring biofuel producer named Green Fuels.
For the utterly bargain price of just £1 per litre, Green Fuels took the excess wine and did some excellent science-y things involving boiling off the alcohol content of the liquid, condensing it down and removing water. This created 99.8% pure ethanol – which was then topped up with alcohol from fermented whey collected at a local cheesemakers. (Oh yes, I forgot to mention the cheese. Incredibly, wonderfully, Charles’ car is powered not only thanks to wine, but cheese as well. I bet you never imagined that this classic combination could be put to work in such an unusual way).
Whilst this magic was happening in the Gloucestershire countryside, Prince Charles was talking to Aston Martin about the potential for an eco-friendly means of transport, and hit upon this biofuel as the perfect answer. Aston tweaked the DB5’s carburettors to allow more fuel to hit the engine, and consequently enabled it to run on a mix of 85 percent wine-derived biofuel, topped up with 15 percent petrol. Job done!
Can you have one?
Well, as amazing as this alternative use for wine is, it’s not particularly straightforward unless you are either a prince of England or best friends with both a winery and a biofuel manufacturer. It’s a lengthy process that requires a massive volume of liquid to produce a minor amount of fuel – and let’s be honest, I think we’d all rather be drinking English wine than powering our cars with it! Even Charles only drives his Aston Martin for a few months every summer, clocking up around 300 miles a year.
Our conclusion? Wine-fuelled cars are wonderful, but wine in a glass is where it’s really supposed to be! The evidence (not that we think any is needed) is that at the recent Royal Wedding, there was no sign of Charles’s DB5, but there was most definitely an impressive amount of bubbly wine. Cheers!
Feeling thirsty for some English Sparkling Wine? Here are our top picks from the recent WineGB tasting.