Wednesday, June 16, 2010

18 Bottles of Wine on the Wall

Sweden has a population of about nine million people. It has an area of 450,295 square kilometers. That’s just a little bit larger than California.

Systembolaget is the state run monopolized liquor store in the country. There are 413 stores in the entire country. Trust me, I went to their website and counted every damn one listed.

Of those 413 stores, and for those nine million people, in that area of 450,295 square kilometers, there are only 18 bottles of a specific wine I was looking to purchase as a gift for an upcoming wedding I will be attending. Those 18 bottles were kept in one store. In Malmö. As close to Copenhagen, Denmark, as you can pretty much get while still in Sweden.

Because they are the state run monopoly and my only option when satisfying my gift giving needs, they are supposed to help out with the different types of alcohol listed on their website. So I got in touch with Systembolaget to see how I go about ordering alcohol. Sent a quick e-mail to their customer service referencing my local store, the name, price, and article number of the product and asked about the process. Turns out, it is necessary to get in contact with your local store. They then request an internal transfer of the products at which point they are delivered to my neighborhood liquor store. There is no central ordering service. Which was unfortunate since I live in Stockholm.

As luck would have it though, I was not in Stockholm. In fact, I was down south in Helsingborg. Pretty close to Malmö. Rather than having the alcohol delivered just a few minutes walk from my home, I would have to drive my ass to the liquor store and then drag that alcohol with me several hundred kilometers. But that’s exactly what I did.

I have nobody to blame but myself. I could have chosen a different wine. But I did not. I could have gone ahead and requested the internal transfer. But I did not. Of course, I could have also moved to a country that doesn’t have such strict liquor laws allowing me only choice for all my alcoholic needs. But I did not.

Welcome to Sweden. And only 16 bottles of wine left.

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  1. sorry to be "that person" but I think you meant Sweden has a population of 9 million an is a little larger than California, not Stockholm. that made me go huh?!! for a second there. :) Cheeers!

  2. damn you and yoru insightful proofreading.

    good work, Ive got it fixed now!

  3. Couldn't you have called your local store and asked them to order a bottle for you?

  4. ok, nothing to do with wine, but any advice on how to say Helsingborg correctly?
    I can't seem to say the 'borg' properly. Just thought, speaking both languages, you might have a suggestion. It keeps coming out 'boring' hahah.

  5. "Hell sing bory", with a British accent and you're very close. :)

  6. Hm, maybe american accent works even better.

    Try it here:

    Choose "Mike, US English" as the voice.

  7. @ Mazui Thanks! That's awesome.

  8. well you can pretty much get any wine you want
    but you have to order it at a store and they will fix it to you if its in sweden otherwise they can import it for you. but they will need some weaks notice before

  9. @anonymous can you get BC ( Canadian) wine there? just curious :)

  10. Since they are a monopoly they are obliged to get anything you want. But you have to buy to minimum quantity the producer sells, and you have to pay freight and of course taxes on top of it all.

    They don't have any canadian wines at the moment, according to the website.

  11. The point is you possess them now :)

  12. WOW! You guys just got ROBBED in the World Cup. Amazing turnaround in the second half. That goal shouldn't have been disallowed.

    Anyway, I hope you watched the game. I thought it was fantastic. If you thought this was boring, well, then all hope is lost that you will learn to appreciate the beautiful game...

  13. @ Todd, yes but when I'm in Sweden next month I won't :) I don't think I"ll be bringing any wine in my suitcase, although maybe I should for gifts. I've heard alcohol is expensive in Sweden, though I can't imagine it being more expensive then here.

  14. There are few places with a better selection than Sweden, alcohol is far more easily accessable than in many US states (California not being one of them, there it's relatively easy easpecially if you want Californian wines). And the prices are also lower in Sweden as long as you stick with wines - although vodka etc is more expensive - the more alcohol, the higher the tax. So I hope you know which state to go to ;-)
    A bottle of wine in a tourist trap restaurant is of course a different thing, though. Tourist traps are expensive all over the world but especially in monopoly countries...
    And Systembolagets ordering service is excellent, by the way, but yes, you have to go to the shop in the nearby so they can check your ID - same reason hotels in US often don't have minibars with alcohol, I assume... :-)
    anyhow, good it eventually worked out :-)

  15. And i am A Swede in America right now...

    Check my blog if you like! I was reading your own thoughts and words and i found them really funny.

    I guess i havent been here to long to make a real judgement how the american people are, but i have some opinions though:

    Open and Crazy :) lol...

    I never met so many "nutcases" in my entire life, and i wonder where they are produced and why the density of them are so high here. It seems a lot of people do agree.

    And i guess we are all nutty and crazy in some ways even the weird shy Swedes. ;)

    I will continue read... :)


  16. @Mazui – I thought so, but it seems that if they have the product somewhere else in the country they only do the internal transfers.

    @Juni – bor as in bore the g as in ya so boreya but cut the a off a little short.

    @Mazui – oooh, also good.

    @Juni – seriously, that was good work.

    @Mrs. Clapper – thanks!

    @Anonymous – that seems like a great way for a company to start getting listed in the Swedish liquor store. Just set up a marketing fund designed to buy the products and have them ordered in stores throughout Sweden.

    @Juni – looks like there are responses further down since I am horribly slow in responding to these.

    @Mazui – perfect for a marketing budget. Good work on the Canadian wines too.

    @Todd – well, I did possess them. They have now been gifted away.

    @The Urban – that’s what I hear, I was at a wedding so missed the game. But I have to say this, because it always bothers me when people get fired up about one single call costing someone a game. Having played a lot of sports, and having watched even more, one single call does not a game make. There tend to be so many opportunities to win a game that one blown call should never decide it. But like I said, I missed the game so I cant speak to this game specifically.

    I have been watching some of the World Cup though. And still nothing. In fact, when I see nonsense like the move by the Ivory Coast last night in the closing minutes of the game when Kaká got red carded because a guy pretended to be elbowed in the face, I once again lose all respect for soccer.

    @Juni – it is ridiculously expensive… although wine is probably the best deal you can get in the country.

    @Ann-Katrin – yeah, wine is just about the only alcohol in Sweden that is competitive price wise.

    And accessibility is relative. Accessible in that they have a good selection, not accessible in that they close at 3 in the afternoon on a Saturday.

    But I was quite pleased that they were so willing to send them internally, although I would have liked to have seen some sort of central ordering service but the ID thing does make sense.

    @Stefan – its true, there are some nut jobs especially depending on where you are. That’s the beauty of the US though, its so big you can find nut jobs you don’t agree with, nut jobs you do agree with, and everything in between.

    Enjoy the US, and good work on the blog!

  17. Ok, I just want to know what wine it was that you just HAD to get them as a gift... Come on, "sharing is caring" :)

  18. Ann-Katrin you are absolutely WRONG! Sweden has a crap selection of alcohol and buying it is such a nightmare. How many states have you been to in the US because it sounds like you've only been to Utah. AND it's so overpriced in Sweden as well. Sounds like you haven't traveled at all.

  19. @terander - some wine called cornas that was supposed to be really good for storing for about 15-20 years.

    @anonymous - I will say in defense of Ann-Katrin, wine is a good option when buying alcohol in Sweden. its actually competitively priced compared to other countries. everything else? ridiculously expensive.