One of the things I lament the most in Sweden is the appallingly bad, boring and terribly expensive selections of wines by the glass in restaurants. Generally, in Stockholm, a glass of house red is between 6-10€ and is often something simple and cheerful from the new world. Heavily manipulated and generally quite boring. At that glass price you can get a bottle or more of the wine in the Systembolaget stores. As soon as you find more interesting, personal, small producer wines by the glass on the list, they tend to jump up above 10€ per glass, toward 15€ is more common and over 20€ per glass if you are somewhere that sells really fun things, like the natural Morgons at 19Glas. A natural wine shouldn’t by necessity be expensive – many of them are made to be ”vins du soif” (”wines of thirst”, or easily quaffable ones).
I understand that the mark-up has to be higher on a glass than on a bottle because of the risk of wasting the whole bottle if you sell only one glass (though there are gas preservation systems to help with this). However, seriously, charging the same (or more!) for a glass of a wine as the bottle of the same wine is in the store is just not reasonable. Nevertheless, in Sweden it is quite common, almost the norm.
In London, where I am right now, I have been very impressed by the by-the-glass choices at many of the places where I eat. For under 10€ per glass I usually find a selection of wines which can include interesting choices such as Savennieres, decent aged Bordeaux, or even the (purposefully) oxidized 12 year old rosé we tried at a Lebanese restaurant in South Kensington. At most pubs there is a half-decent glass under 5€, but that is just bonus.
For me (caring enough about what I drink to not want to have the oak-chipped fruitfests often found), the poor choice and high prices take the fun out of going for a glass and a chat with my girlfriends in any of the wonderfully gorgeous bars of Stockholm. Or the fun out of food-and-wine pairing in a restaurant. If I had one wish for the Swedish restaurant scene, it would be more decent mark-ups and more interesting wines by-the-glass. Until then, I’ll have to spend more time in rainy, cold London.
- With winemaking student Charlotte Jonasson at Terroirs in London, a great natural wine bar with good by-glass selection near Trafalgar Square.