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Sweden - wine & recommendations

travel

#1

In the coming weeks I’m starting the process of moving to Sweden, where I’ll be based in Gothenburg. I’d very much appreciate any recommendations you have for things to do, see and eat/drink?

Do we have any Swedish members or other expats on here?

Of course, given this is a TWS community, thoughts immediately turn to wine. I’m currently liberating my wines from storage ready to ship over in a few of months time - so I really need last year’s Rhone and Burgundy EP allocations to be delivered before too long! Have others here ever shippped wine overseas in quantity? Our shipping company will do it, but I fear it will just be stuck in a big metal shipping container and be exposed to all sort of temperature variations.

I’m also interested in future sourcing of wine - TWS clearly remains an option for long term buy & hold type purchases, but day to day wines are likely to come from Sweden’s state run alcohol supplier (Systembolaget)…

When I’ve visited the stores the selction is pretty good and prices are not as bad as I feared, being broadly similar to the UK. Lower price wines tend to be a little more expensive due to the impact of local duty but higher priced wines often work out a little cheaper as the duty effect is less of the overall % of the price.

Would welcome any tips for how others buy wine in Sweden. I’m guessing shipping from other suppliers in the EU would work if all duty paid and for personal consumption.


#2

I worked and spent a lot of time in Sweden - mostly Stockholm in the 1990’s and I loathed with intensity the monopoly Systembolaget.

I thought it’d disappear when Sweden joined the EU, but it evolved. No longer the labour exchange type system with one example bottle behind glass around the walls, ordering by stock number when your ticket was called, and going to the back of the queue if your chosen wine was out of stock…

Now bottles are stacked in the open like in regular supermarkets, but it’s still a state store.

Still, lovely summers.


#3

Gothenburg is a beautiful city, and a bit more chilled out than Stockholm- though I love them both. Maybe it’s something to do with being surrounded by water, but there’s something really calm about both cities. I’ve got a good friend who used to live there (now moved to Hammarö – another area worth visiting!), so been there several times.

There’s plenty to do as a tourist, but obviously if you’re going to settle there you can discover it in your own time. One of the nicest things you could do as a family, to get a feel of it, is take a Paddan boat tour from Kungsportsplatsen (across from the Tourist Office). It’s a good way to experience the city’s beauty; some of the bridges on the Gota canal are so low, everyone has to lie flat whilst going under them. We loved it.

It’s definitely worth visiting the ‘Fish Church’ (Feskekörka) – a huge place, architecturally designed like a Church (and actually consecrated too, I believe!), which is a big fish market. Fantastic for shopping for fresh seafood.

The Haga district of the city is very bohemian, and worth just mooching around – looking at beautiful little shops and stopping for the traditional Fika. Obviously, you got to have a cinnamon bun (Kanelbullar) with your coffee. There are lots of little lovely places to eat around there, as well – home-made meatballs are great, but they do great stuff with Reindeer meat too, not to mention fresh seafood.

If you’re into outdoor swimming, don’t miss visiting the Delsjön lake: https://www.goteborg.com/en/delsjon/ - a heavenly place to swim outdoors in the summer. In fact, swimming outdoors is one of the most life-affirming things you could do in Sweden. It’s so clean, and geared up for it – with bathing stations/steps running into the water, and often lovely little cafes nearby. If you do this in Midsummer… well, it’s just blissful.

Speaking of Midsummer – not sure if you’ll be there for it? But the cities tend to empty, and everyone moves to the countryside for the weekend (it’s a national holiday). Many Swedes got little huts in the country, so make some friends and celebrate like a Swede. We’ve been to one at our friend’s Midsommar Garden party a couple years ago, and it’s the best party I’ve ever been to.

Other great attractions are the Liseberg amusement park – my husband shed about 30 years when we were there – he’s a nutcase for that sort of stuff. Even if you’re not into rides, the place is amazing: https://www.goteborg.com/en/liseberg/

The Botaniska trädgården (Botanical Gardens) are a must as well. I think it is the biggest one in Sweden. There’s a famous Volvo museum too, but I have never been.

As for the Systembolaget (or simply System, as they call it) – as @peterm said – it’s like entering a large and very well organised drinks supermarket now, rather than the old slightly Soviet system. There’s always a good selection at fairly good prices too; the only thing to be aware of are the opening hours. A few times we forgot about the closing time, and ended up having to buy very weak lager from the supermarket (I think they can only sell alcohol up to 3.5% in supermarkets – but might be wrong).
To be fair, my friends always have wine in the house, so it only happened when we travelled on our own. If you stock up – it’s not a problem. Interestingly, the Swedes love their wine boxes. I think a significant majority buys wine this way.

If I can think of anything else I’ll let you know… :grin: :sweden:


#4

Wow, that’s amazing @Inbar! Thank you for taking the time to write such a thoughtful and detailed response :smile:

I’m going to be there from the beginning of March and we’ll make the permanent move with the family in June, so do hope to enjoy the Midsummer holidays. It’s interesting you mention the Djelson lake as that was one of the places the relocation people took us towards the end of last year - beautiful, but in November you had to use your imagination about open air swimming! Though I’m told you can also ice skate there in the winter.

I’ll keep you posted on our adventures :sweden:


#5

Indeed!

As we were enjoying a glass of wine at around 1am in midsummer, my other half asked my friend’s husband - “so, how does it feel in the depth of winter, compared to this?” - “like living in a bag” was his reply.

That’s one other thing I’ll say about the Swedes - they are very ‘English’ in their humour. Very droll and dry, and a little self-deprecating. Very hospitable and friendly, too!


#6

Hi I worked in Stockholm for 3 years. I found the wine on offer in the state off licence of excellent quality. My impression was that they don’t stock cheap stuff. So if you’re used to say paying around £15-20… then you will still drink well.


#7

That was my impression from the one visit I had. Not quite TWS but better than the average UK supermarket. Cheapest bottles of red were about £8, though wine boxes may have been cheaper. My typically per bottle price tends to be in the £10-20 range so I’m quite hopeful.

The last time I was there happened to be a Friday evening and the Systembolget in central Gothenburg looked like the Selfridges Boxing Day sale - utter mayhem and very little on the shelves as closing time approached. The Swedes clearly like to party on a Friday night!


#8

Ha ha! They certainly do. Might also be something to do with the System being closed on Sundays.


#9

Yes, but remember that is the only wine shop, the only wines available retail. You can’t go to a competitor and find a different range


#10

Love Sweden - have spent many happy times there on work and with family. I managed our Swedish distributor so travelled Malmo, Gothenburg and across to Stockholm on many occasions.

Gothenburg is a lovely city but I prefer Malmo - so relaxed and beautiful…and easy to access Copenhagen !

Don’t forget beer - down at Klippan is a hotel that was the Carnegie brewery and still has some amazing beers !

Wine…friends travel to Germany to purchase and drive back

Enjoy your new home !


#11

Hi I hosted a couple of tastings in Sweden last year and found that what System has to offer on line can be very different to what might be available in your local store so worth ordering well in advance


#12

Good luck with the move.

I’m sure an awful lot of people are going to be following in your footsteps (though not necessarily to Sweden!) over the next few months.

Anyone who feasibly can, in fact!


#13

My sister lived there for a few years when married to a Swede, and we visited a couple of times. I recall the mad rush to the System on a Friday afternoon, because most of them shut for the weekend! And all the people with brown paper bags coming out…

One in central Stockholm had a decent range of wine and not too bad prices. Out where my sister lived, about 30 odd miles away, the small town one didn’t have such a good range. Supermarkets only allowed to sell weak beer and cider. One or two were ok, particularly on a hot day, but I wouldn’t want to be dependent on it…


#14

Like Sweden, Norway has a state wine retail monolopy, but several years ago the EU required Norway to break the state monopoly on imoprting, meaning that anyone licensed can import wine for restaurants and bars, and the state retail monoplopy is required to sell any wine privately imported. This has opened up the choice available a great deal, and arguably gives better consumer choice than private enterprise, particularly in remote areas, as the full range is available through local outlets as well as online.

As Sweden is in the EU I presume it has similar arrangements.

BTW I too remember a time when the Norwegian Vinmonopolet was closed on Saturday (as well as Sunday and evenings of course) - in an attempt to curb weekend drinking. It got to the stage where it was actually more convenient for me to buy wine from airports when I was flying. Fortunately the experiment did not last long.


#15

The Norwegians too. The quality is much better than what we find in the supermarkets here.