Elizabeth Fournier
WITH whisky tasting, a jazz band and the chance to win a sports car for the weekend on offer, WorldSpreads winter party (definitely not just a late Christmas do) was the place to be in the City on Tuesday night.

Held in a candlelit crypt underneath St Etheldreda’s church near Chancery Lane, the night saw the spread betting firm’s chief executive Conor Foley welcome guests to the crypt – marked by the shiny silver Lotus Evora parked outside – for an evening of drinking, eating, and a rather unusual raffle.

In January, WorldSpreads launched the first ever spread bet on the future of the Euro, allowing investors to take a position on exactly how many days the single currency will last in its current guise.

The current price is pitched between 700-710 days, with returns based around the Euro lasting for longer or shorter than that before at least one country decides to withdraw.

To celebrate, guests were each given a defunct European coin – in The Capitalist’s case a Belgian franc – on arrival. A corresponding coin was then pulled out in a draw, with the winner getting the keys to the resident Lotus for a weekend.

The coy winner declined to be named, but rumour has it the £70,000 thoroughbred went to a journalist who doesn’t own a car, seldom drives one, and looked rather nervous at the prospect of taking the wheel of the luxury machine, not to mention returning it unscathed...

Red wine drinkers have long dined out on its supposed health benefits – it’s chock full of polyphenols thought to protect against heart disease, and chemicals in the grapes’ skin may even slow aging. But now there’s even more of an excuse to indulge, with news that sales of red wine could save London’s ailing bars and restaurants.

According to research by Wilson Drinks, those who chose to quaff red wine splurge more than any other type of drinker each time they go out, with an average spend of £17.68 per outing. They also prefer gastro pubs to any other type of drinking establishment – a format that analysts predict the most likely to survive tough trading conditions.

And if red wine drinkers hold the key to preserving UK pubs, bars and restaurants, then their ‘hobby’ is also likely to be driving the latest figures from the Fine Wine Fund, which saw its share price rise 1.9 per cent in January – the latest increase in a steady upward trend that has seen the fund grow 73 per cent since it was launched in 2006.

Long seen as a stable investment, the fund has recently seen demand for cheaper, lower quality vintages outperforming the more expensive, higher quality ones.

With much of the fund’s growth driven by Asian demand for first-growth claret, it’s particularly interesting to note that Mouton Rothschild’s 1996 vintage rose 25 per cent – with significant interest in the bottle sparked by the fact that Chinese artist Gu Gan painted its label.

Perhaps Jacobs Creek should think about giving Rolf Harris a call…

Wallets at the ready ­– the Epsom Derby’s Spring Meeting is fast approaching, including the first of the year’s official Derby Trials.

The Spring Meeting will take place on Wednesday 20 April, with prize money totalling £30,000 thanks to a second year of sponsorship from Investec, which has committed to the event for the next three years.

Last year saw trainer Andrew Balding (above centre, with Investec’s chief marketer Raymond Van Niekerk and guest of honour Ian Balding) pick up the trial trophy.