A people not known for public displays of sentimentality, Brits have felt shockwaves this week after the loss of their longest-reigning monarch. Queen Elizabeth II was at once a ubiquitous and highly private figure, the perfect formula for intrigue and speculation around how she might have been behind the majestic mask. We could only ever hope for titbits about her habits and routines, her likes and dislikes, often inventing a picture of a likeable, grandmotherly personage who more than deserved to enjoy a drink at the end of the day. But what did the Queen actually have in her cellars and cabinets? Which tipples were favoured by such an influential and iconic woman?
Champagne before bed
Whilst most of us are content with a camomile tea to wind down in the evening, Her Majesty often enjoyed something a little more indulgent. It has been reported that she’d pour a glass of Champagne after her evening meal; an aperitif fit for royalty, indeed. She had quite an affinity with Maison Bollinger, an estate that puts refinement and power at the heart of its craft. What more is there to say..?
Far from having a single preference, though, the Queen gave her official stamp of approval to many Champagne houses: Lanson, Moët & Chandon, Veuve Clicquot, Louis Roederer, Krug, Mumm, Laurent Perrier and Pol Roger have all featured as royal fizz suppliers. We might be biased, but a roster of top names like this could only be a sign of impeccable taste. And, clearly, a bit of bubbly at bedtime didn’t do Elisabeth Windsor any harm.
A Germanic influence
Sweet wines from Alsace and Germany have also been known to grace the royal tables of Buckingham Palace and beyond. On the occasion of her 80th birthday, for example, she picked out Domaine Weinbach to serve, no doubt an honour for the esteemed, Kayserberg-based estate. Another Alsace name that featured in her cellar is Rolly-Gassmann, another estate that considers strength of identity as one of its key values. Plus, the cuvées from this region are often allowed to mature at length in order to evolve all their character…might that remind us of someone else who aged exceptionally well?
Bordeaux for the classics
In a similar vein when it comes to good ageing, a French catering teacher has recounted how the Queen was also a fan of Bordeaux; especially fine reds from the Médoc. Stories of stately dinners show menus featuring bottles of Mouton-Rothschild and Château Margaux in mature vintages, classic choices that display a penchant for refinement and a leaning towards tradition, perhaps. Petrus was poured at Her Majesty’s wedding to the late Prince Phillip in 1947, too, a powerhouse of prestige for such a historically important event! Another nod towards France’s most renowned wine labels came in the form of Sauternes from Château d’Yquem, often served alongside a thoroughly French foie gras, a pairing that has really stood the test of time.
Scotch and gin
It’s clear that tipples from cooler climes had a certain allure for Queen Elizabeth, including when it came to her choice of spirits. Gin with Dubonnet is reported to have been a longstanding favourite, with sales of this aromatised, wine-based aperitif soaring since her passing last week. Scotch has often been mentioned, too, perhaps a link to her much-adored Balmoral estate near Aberdeen. Apparently, the new King Charles III is also partial to a drop of whisky, with Laphroaig cited as one of his favourites…
Much remains (rightly) unknown about what went on behind the scenes in the life of the late monarch, including what exactly she kept in the royal cellars, but we’ll be raising a toast to an inimitable figure who has left her mark on the course of history.