What, for example, does Systembolaget really mean with the pithy couplet “discreet and earthy”, or the fruity phrase “a taste of mature apples”?
“Run in the opposite direction because this is a really shitty wine,” a source at the chain told trade union newspaper Dagens Arbete.
The insider claiming to reveal the truth about the liquor store Goliath said that even wines dismissed by connoisseurs as barely potable plonk had to be described in positive terms.
“We are not allowed to make any judgments as to whether a wine is bad or good. That’s the way it is. Systembolaget’s monopoly would be called into question if any one supplier was favoured over another.”
Systembolaget spokesman Björn Rydberg was quick to dismiss the allegations.
“We try to describe how a drink tastes in as objective and ambitious a manner as possible. It’s not a grade but a taste description. We don’t think we have any bad wines in our stock, but the tastes are different,” he said.
But wine expert Håkan Larsson, an editor at Allt om vin (‘All about wine’) magazine, tended to agree with the rumours spreading on the grapevine. He advised consumers to compare the purple prose used to describe wines in different price categories.
“You’ll quickly discover which words to look for. The finer wines also generally have longer descriptions,” he told Dagens Arbete.