More Secrets of the Swedish Sommeliers

On paper at least, SA should have more sommeliers than the Nordic nations, for Norway and Sweden have 400 apiece while Denmark has 100. SA supposedly has 2010, trained by Let’s Sell Lobster under a high profile program managed by WOSA, the people charged with promoting SA wine in het buiteland. I’ve yet to meet one, but certainly the launch parties made the last days of Nero look like a matric farewell in Matatiel. What went wrong?

 More Secrets of the Swedish Sommeliers

Sommeliers in Alentejo on Sunday

Still sommeliers are an interesting bunch if you’d like to promote your wine, as theoretically, they could have some influence on what their restaurants list. Which is why ViniPortugal, the Portuguese incarnation of WOSA, flew a dozen Nordic sommeliers to the ViniPax 2011 wine show in Beja on the weekend and then on a tour around the southern appellations.

Gate crashing Sunday’s sommelier tour was an education. There was a producer trashing Trincadeira, one of the heavyweight grape varietals of Alentejo, which was damned for producing low quality wines. It all sounded a bit like a Somerset West producer on the subject of Pinotage. Which I see failed to get a single five star exhibit in yesterday’s Platter planetarium, in-spite of the 2009 vintage as being widely hailed as the best ever for SA’s own varietal, by Pinotage experts. What went wrong?

Another surprise is that while SA has almost 2/3 of the Swedish bag-in-box market, SA wines are almost unknown in Norway and Denmark – strange, as the Scandinavian countries are more intimate than most and can even understand and speak each other’s languages. The problem in Norway could be crazy excise pricing of 45 crowns a bottle, so rather pay that on Pétrus than Perdeberg. Certainly the Norwegian liquor monopoly seems to be the most sussed in the world, listing over 9000 items with consumers given up to five years to return any bottles they don’t like for a full refund.

And as for Denmark, it seems that WOSA has abandoned the Danish market. For a sommelier in an 84 cover restaurant next to the Copenhagen City Hall sounded like BB King: the thrill is gone. “We stock Rustenberg Five Soldiers and De Toren Fusion Five and that’s about it. We used to list Michel Rolland’s Bonne Nouvelle and some wines from Fairview but we hear of nothing new from the importers and distributors.” What went wrong?