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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