Wineweek 31: Greetings From Reykjavik

It is an unusual day in Reykjavik. The sun is shining from a blue sky and the wind is cool but gentle. Iceland is a country that has about 200 storms in a year, so I can honestly say we have been lucky with the weather. It is the time year that the Nordic countries celebrate Midsummer, summer solstice and the midnight sun. The sun does not really set this time of year and it is light all day (and night) round. Usually people head to their summer houses, enjoy some barbecue, sauna and cool beverages. Regardless of the high expectations and optimistic forecasts, the weather is almost always bad, and the police in Finland are busy as the tradition is to put up big bonfires close to midnight. We decided to run away from all of that and have spent the last four days admiring the Icelandic nature, eating good food and getting to know the wine (and coffee) scene of Reykjavik. The expectation was (even) worse weather, but Iceland has blessed us with blue skies and very little rain.

Reykjavik has surprised me in many ways. Firstly it is smaller than I expected. You can walk everyehwere, there is barely any traffic, and only a few houses are built more than three stories high. It resembles in a way some of the cities in northern Finland, but is much cuter and blessed with much better with food and drinks. It is a pleasure to stroll along the streets and observe the quiet life beyond the parties of the main street

Breathtaking waterfalls on the Golden Circle tour
Breathtaking waterfalls on the Golden Circle tour
Just off the main street
Just off the main street

Secondly, the beer scene beats the wine scene. I don’t really know if this is a surprise, but it is an observation we made during our many dinners and snacks at the local restaurants. We found some wonderful and surprising beers, but the wine list was often a disappointment. If the “best” wine bar in town serves Gancia Asti as their house sparkling, it tells you something about the overall quality. However, the food is quite heavy, meaty and flavourful, so a beer is a good combination with the local cuisine. Considering that beer only has been legal since 1989 it is impressive that they have such good local producers.

The third observation was the state of patriotic pride of the Icelanders. I had heard about the local winning spirit before, but listening for a full day about Icelandic greatness while on the Golden Circle tour, I really understood what all the talk was about. I can respect a healthy dose of self confidence. If you live on an island with 200 storms a year, you might as well have a positive attitude towards the rest of it. But talking big about yourself just doesen’t sit well with the other Nordic countries, so we found some of the stories a bit silly. All in all it was well intended.

Some great beer at Mikkeller and Friends
Some great beer at Mikkeller and Friends

But more about Iceland next week. Our final orders have now reached their happy owners, and we are ready to take a summer holiday from the business. Ok, an entrepreneur is seldom on holiday and we won’t be either. We will just not be shipping any wine during July. We will be preparing for the fall with some of our new producers and planning tastings and events for August. I am really excited about the Vieira de Sousa ports that we will be adding to our selection. Port wine is something we have very recently discovered (read more about it here) and we are very keen on sharing our experiences with the winecurious. Have an enjoyable week, and I will share more of the fall plans with you in the next Wineweek.

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