TheWineRambler "A German wine label is one of the things life's too short for" - Kingsley Amis

London's tastiest wardrobe

Posted by Torsten 28 Mar 2011

For a long time there were rumours and speculation about its contents. Insiders were whispering to each other about it, would-be experts claimed to have had a peek and those in the know smiled in entrancement. And yet only one person has full access to a highly guarded container, hidden away at the Wine Rambler's London HQ.

London's tastiest wardrobeLondon's tastiest wardrobe

Come in and join us, gentle reader, for a tour of London's tastiest wardrobe.

Let me start with explaining the why. Apart from drinking wine I do also like buying wine: checking out the shelves in shops, browsing new releases from my favourite wineries or filtering my way through hundreds of bottles from online wine merchants. Because of this I always have more wine at home than I can drink, and way more than the 30 bottles that fit into the small wine rack in my living room.

So I need a good storage place. In an ideal world this would mean slightly humid, completely dark and a stable temperature of around 13° C all year round. Unfortunately, like almost all London flats mine does not come with a cellar (how do I envy friends in Germany where everyone has a cellar). So the wardrobe in my bedroom is the next best option. It is dark and the temperature more stable and slightly cooler than elsewhere in my house. It is not great, but the best I have.

Initially, I was concerned the wines would suffer from being stored in the wardrobe, but that is not necessarily true. Some of the bottles have been living there for about four years now and so far they have all been in excellent condition. I wouldn't dare to put a wine away for ten years though.

a wine delivery arrives at Wine Rambler London HQa wine delivery arrives at Wine Rambler London HQ

So what's in the wardrobe? Obviously a lot of German wine, but otherwise an eclectic mixture of what I like to drink: usually there will be wine from Austria, France, Spain and the US, the odd English sparkler or one of my more unusual finds, be they from Eastern Europe or elsewhere.

Austria with its Riesling and Grüner Veltliner is close to my heart, and it is impossible to think of wine without France (more north than south in my case). Spain is the only country I buy more red than white wines from - I just would not want to be without a good Tempranillo. As far as the US are concerned, you are as likely to find Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from California as whites or Pinot from some of the cooler regions. And then there is English wine, a region I have come more attached to since moving here, mostly sparklers but also the odd rosé. On occasion Australian or NZ Riesling or Sauvignon Blanc will say hello too.

Italy is dramatically under-represented. I blame being exposed to too much trendy yet utterly boring Pinot Grigio in Munich, but there is also an element of laziness in engaging with a wine country I don't know enough about.

And Germany, well, Riesling of course. Old, young, bone dry, super sweet, light or heavyweight, I love them all. Other than Riesling there is a broad range of German wines, to which the Wine Rambler is testament. Recently I ordered any Gelber Orleans I could find, an esoteric yet utterly fascinating German variety. There are also other obscure finds such as Huxelrebe, or the slightly better known Scheurebe. I always have Silvaner at home, the Wine Rambler's pet variety, and Pinot Noir, as well as the other Pinots, in particularly Pinot Blanc. And then there are the more unusual German reds, including Bordeaux style blends or Syrah, but also Germanic varieties such as Dornfelder. Partly because of the food I cook there always seems to be more white than red in the house.

Another advantage of always having wine at home is that it gives me a good excuse to invite friends over. Or to venture out and make new friends to drink wine with. That is what makes this hobby so satisfying.

p.s. yes, you have indeed spotted a Bordeaux magnum at the bottom of the wardrobe; and, almost impossible to see, a vintage port...

Secrets of the closet...

Hi Torsten,

Thanks for sharing your secret closet with us! (I just realized that I call it a "closet" while you call it a "wardrobe" - I suppose this is one instance where Canadian English goes the American way instead of the British.) Some interesting finds! Italy is under-represented in my collection as well; I've been meaning to work on that. I think I require a trip to Italy to do proper research... ;)

Just curious, is there a reason you choose to store the wine in a closet instead of, say, a small wine fridge? Our wine collection has grown to two small wine fridges, and I always wonder how the wines will fare in there. I also occasionally get concerned about the amount of energy those fridges may be consuming! Until the day we can have a cellar (something I aspire to), I wonder whether the wine would fare better in a dark closet.

Secrets of the closet...

Good point about the wardrobe/closet issue, Lesley. I was theoretically aware of that, but as I am more and more leaning towards British English I sometimes forget there is a different version of English out there (if you leave shouting Australians in my neighbourhood aside). Regarding Italy, please do take me along!

There are two reason why I store the wine in a closet/wardrobe, and one is indeed the issue of electricity consumption. My green conscience just thinks it is weird to pay/pollute for something that should be included in any flat anyway, i.e. a decent wine storage cellar. Another issue is space - I would not want to have a noisy fridge in the bedroom and everywhere else it would mean to do some serious work to fit it in. I may look into this if I stay here longer, but so far I haven't given up the idea of a flat/house with a cellar!

One thing I realized while

One thing I realized while living in Germany is that Germans (and Europeans in general, I think) are MUCH more conscious of energy consumption and green practices than us North Americans. I suppose I still have the North American attitude (or rather, ignorance) ingrained into me, but I am trying to do better! At least the "energy efficient" appliances seem to be gaining in popularity here. In my last flat, the appliances were all energy efficient, and they were all German! :)

Of all the countries I have

Of all the countries I have visited or lived in, perhaps with the exception of Sweden, Germany seems to at least express the biggest concern for energy efficiency and green topics. It is not a coincidence that the German green party gets around 15-20% of the popular vote in elections these days. While my English neighbours think thin secondary glazing is very advanced (admittedly, they may not be representative of the whole country), one of my German friends is now building a carbon-neutral house that will be so well insulated that even in the icy Munich winter it won't need heating - which is good as it will not even have a heating system. Annoyingly, even the cellar will be so well insulated, that it will be as warm as the living area, which means they may need a second, separate cellar; but then Moritz is not a big wine drinker.

Anyway, even the notoriously efficient Germans are not doing nearly as well as they could, and my carbon balance has been totally ruined by work travel. Compared to that an efficient wine cooler is a lesser sin... ;-)