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.
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.
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...