Wine pulled because it was ‘too good’: supplier

Sweden's state-run liquor store monopoly has sent back 6,000 bottles of a Spanish wine because it tasted better than expected, according to a Swedish alcohol supplier.

Wine pulled because it was 'too good': supplier

The white wine Fulget 2011 was supposed to go on sale in Sweden from June 1st, but Systembolaget ended up cancelling the launch.

According to Spruce Up CEO Kåre Halldén, Systembolaget claimed that the Fulget, a Spanish albariño wine, did not smell or taste the same as the wine it tested six months earlier, before Spruce Up entered Fulget into a tendering process in which 50 wines competed.

Halldén told wine magazine Livets Goda that two out of three tasting experts at Systembolaget stated that the wine that was delivered to stores in May was “clearly better” than the original samples delivered in March.

“I believe that taste-wise it is exactly the same wine,” Halldén told Livets Goda. “Systembolaget, on the other hand, believes that the wine that has been delivered to the stores is much better than that which won the tender in the beginning of the year.”

Systembolaget spokesman Lennart Agén denied Halldén’s claims.

“We never said it tasted better. We’ve said it tasted different. It is simply a different wine,” Agén told The Local.

“Whether the wine that was delivered tasted better or not is his value judgement,” Agén said of Halldén’s claim.

“What I can confirm is that since the wine we tested and ordered is not the same as the wine that was eventually delivered – something which the producer has also confirmed – we cannot sell it in our stores”

Spruce Up claimed it has been ordered to pay for the cost of returning the 6,000 bottles, losing hundreds of thousands of kronor in the process (100,000 kronor = $15,400). Systembolaget also preserved the right to demand damages for lost revenues on wine sales, according to Spruce Up.

Livets Goda explained that Halldén recently issued a press release after a Swedish radio programme claimed that work conditions at Chilean wineries did not comply with Systembolaget’s code of conduct.

In the press release, Halldén criticised Systembolaget for not living up to its Corporate Social Responsibility commitments.

Asked if he suspects his press release could have something to do with the Fulget bottles being returned, Halldén said:

“I have no evidence to back that up so it would be reckless to issue a formal accusation.”

“The only thing I can confirm is that there were no objections to the wine before I criticized Systembolaget. After the criticism, exactly the same wine was stopped.”

Agén said that is an “absurd claim” and insisted that Systembolaget would have acted the same with any other provider.

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Swedes warned: Vodka won’t protect you from the coronavirus

Sweden's state-run alcohol chain Systembolaget has advised customers not to buy its spirits as a substitute for hand sanitiser.

Swedes warned: Vodka won't protect you from the coronavirus
Stockholmers queuing outside Systembolaget before Easter. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

One of the best ways of avoiding the new coronavirus and prevent its spread is to wash your hands often with soap and water, according to the Swedish Public Healh Agency.

If you don't have access to soap or running water, hand sanitiser is the next best option, but the product has been flying off the shelves as shoppers try to get their hands on a bottle.

Sweden's state-owned alcohol chain Systembolaget has been forced to put up signs in several of its stores informing customers that alcohol such as vodka and gin does not work as a substitute for hand sanitiser.

“NOT HAND SANITISER,” read the signs.

“We have had a few questions from customers and have put up signs in those stores,” said Systembolaget press officer Therese Elmgren.

“But it is not possible, just as the signs say. The percentage (of alcohol) needs to be higher.”

An alcohol concentration of at least 60 percent is needed for disinfectant to be effective in killing viruses or bacteria. Absolut Vodka, to use an example of a popular Swedish vodka brand, has an alcohol concentration of 40 percent.

However, some of the ingredients are the same, and during the coronavirus crisis Absolut has adapted parts of its manufacturing in order to produce pure alcohol which can be used for cleaning purposes, instead of vodka for consumption. This pure alcohol then needs to be mixed with gel, manufactured separately, to create usable sanitiser for the healthcare sector.