Lunch today of delicious pumpkin and bean soup with Jonas Rohden, Swedish sommelier practicing in Norway, at País das Uvas (Land of Grapes) in Vila de Fradas. Jonas hails from Leksand, a village of 5000 souls in rural Sweden, who went to school with Roundhouse sommelier Joakim Hansi Blackadder. Joakim, together with Swedish sommelier Josephine Gutentoft, is favourite to win the Swedish sommelier competition sponsored by Bollinger Champagne whose panel of judges is chaired by Swedish sommelier Mia Mårtensson. The winner will be revealed on Friday 11 November in that Stockholm-in-the-Swartland, Riebeek Kasteel, as part of the Swartland Swedish Revolution.
I’d always wondered why the Cape is crawling with Swedish sommeliers and after lunch I can explain it: Swedes are the Mexicans of the restaurant business with “sommelier” Swedish for waiter and table clearer. “No one is exclusively a wine waiter in Stockholm, everyone is a general waiter and clearer these days.”
A bus load of Swedish sommeliers, complete with David Bowie in his thin white duke incarnation and Lisbeth Salander look-alikes (with dragon tattoos and black leather riding boots in the balmy 30º autumnal Alentejo heat) were in town to brush up on Portuguese wines as the Alentejo makes a powerful charge to wrest the bag-in-box crown from South Africa. “Bag-in-box alcoholics, usually middle-aged women, are a new social phenomenon in Sweden” and the Adega Almeirim has just landed an order for 1.5 million litres of Maria Gomes from the Swedish liquor monopoly. At €4.5 a 3 litre bag-in-box, its good business for this Tejo producer and even better for the monopoly who offload it on Swedish matrons at €25 a box.
A dirty business Jonas has no part of, as he works in Oslo “a deeply conservative wine market where white wine means Chablis and red, Bordeaux.” So no wonder WOSA has made no impact in neighbouring Norway. A bit like their failed plan to knit 2010 sommeliers in time for last year’s FIFA Soccer World Cup then. Not that the controversial plan to flog overpriced Fundi red wine to pay for the lavish launch parties was even necessary – Lusan managed to entice some sexy Swedish sommeliers to work in their cellars for two months as interns simply by offering food – cheese studded with fruit that tasted “like icecream” – with accommodation and airfares paid by the Swedes. This sounds like a wheeze any Cape Town restaurateur worth his gravadlax can afford. How about it, Peter Weetman?
Ahh sommelier – a wine waiter… we learn something new everyday from you Neil – thanks!
WOSA was training wine stewards not sommeliers.Let Sell Lobster should be able to introduce you to some as they did the training.