Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Yeoman, that's a lot of wine!*

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*Sorry... the pun was too much to resist.Instead of enduring Sunday's 80th annual Academy Awards ceremony, I ended up catching the final installment of a series called Monarchy: The Royal Family at Work. I don't consider myself to be a died-in-the-wool monarchist, but there's something about all the pomp and ceremony that I find fascinating. (Plus I happened to be downtown when Queen Elizabeth was in Winnipeg, and she waved at me; as a result, I feel a deep connection to Her Royal Highness. But I digress.)The filmmakers spent a year behind the scenes with the Royal Family over the course of a year, documenting the travels and rituals of Queen Elizabeth and her family, and offered fascinating insight into what goes in to getting the Queen & Co. around.So why bring all this up? Well, in this installment they took a brief peek around Buckingham Palace's wine cellar. This ain't your dad's collection of homebrew stored in the laundry room; rather, it's a 25,000 bottle cellar that boasts some of the world's best names and vintages. There's even a bottle of sherry dating back to 1660!I guess when you spend most your time entertaining heads of state and other dignitaries (among the 20,000 or so that stop by Buckingham Palace every year), you have to keep a few bottles of everything on hand. The Guardian reports that in 2002, £97,000 was spent on restocking the palace cellar. In total, the cellar's contents carry an estimated value of £2 million.There's very little information out there about Buckingham Palace's wine cellar - I found this article by the Telegraph, but there isn't much else to be found, as the cellar is rarely opened to the public. It was recently retrofitted to be cooled by borehole water in an attempt to curb energy consumption.Of course, someone has to manage such an extensive cellar, which is why the Royal Family retains positions such as Yeoman of the Cellar and Royal Sommelier. These chaps monitor inventory and select wines for all official functions at Buckingham Palace. How does a guy go about putting his name in for that type of job?

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About Ben MacPhee-Sigurdson

When he wasn't bashing on a drum kit in local punk rock bands, Ben spent the mid '90s hucking cases of wine around to pay for two English degrees. Now he's the Winnipeg Free Press wine columnist and blogger.

The extent of Ben's wine experience in the mid-90s was memories of accidentally leaving a bottle of White Zinfandel in the freezer overnight, and the ensuing mess he was left with. Between 1996 and 2005 Ben absorbed all he could about wine while working at wine shops to pay for school. Meanwhile, he was churning out papers for his BA and MA in English (from the Universities of Winnipeg and Manitoba, respectively).

Ben became the Winnipeg Free Press' weekly wine columnist in 2005, and two years later joined Wine Access magazine as a contributor, a member of their national tasting panel and a judge at the Canadian Wine Awards and International Value Wine Awards until the magazine closed up shop in 2013.

In 2013 Ben joined the Winnipeg Free Press as a copy/web editor.

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