Wineweek 6

The last Wineweek of the year! A recap of Christmas week: Great food, wine and of course visiting friends and relatives; and some thoughts about 2015.

This year Christmas was a bit different. We have traditionally traveled away combining the holidays with some weeks of saved-up summer vacation days. Last year we spent three weeks in Hawaii and the year before we were in California. As we are travelling away in January “this year” (technically next year), Christmas was planned to take place here in Sweden. So my family traveled from Helsinki and London to stay with us. It was wonderful, but hectic. I am happy to wait a year to do it again. When Friday finally came, M and I sat on the sofa and thought how wonderful it was that the house was quiet.

So what did we actually do this week? Perhaps most interesting is to discuss what we drank (and ate) on Christmas eve. It was not an easy decision choosing the festive drinks with so many great bubblies in the fridge after the Winecalendar. After some contemplation we opted for the Krug Grande Cuvee. The house of Krug produces very powerful Champagnes with notes of nuts and caramel. A perfect choice for days of celebration. They are heavy on the wallet, but worth trying. For Christmas dinner we went for some Italian red from LaVis and a non-alcoholic Cider from La Ribaude. As a companion to the wines we made a roast with vegetables, boiled potatoes and a fig salad. Not a traditional Christmas meal, but it was our choice as we hosted the event.

What about presents then? What kind of stuff did Santa bring the Winecurious? I don’t know if I have been such a good girl this year, but I sure did get some great presents. There was a few great wine-books: Christie’s Encyclopedia of Champagne & Sparkling Wine revised and expanded by one of my favorite wine-personalities from Finland, Essi Avellan MW (Master of Wine) and the 7th edition of the World Atlas of Wine. M also got a great hamburger cooking book. Mmmm, looking forward to him making those burgers. To my surprise, there was room left in the fridge(s) for some more bubbly (even after the Winecalendar), so Santa got me a box of Cuvee Charlemagne  2008 for my long term storage. I also got a great new tea brewer with a convenient mechanism for keeping the tea pot warm for a second serving. These presents should keep me busy (and drinking) for a while.

We also tried a few other great wines this weekend. Two cavas we brought home from Cavatast last October: Vilarnau Gran Reserva Vintage 2010 and Guillem Carol Millenium Gran Reserva 2005. Both interesting and worth taking some time to write a review. And an Italian red, Gran Verosso Gold Edition. Otherwise we have been enjoying coffee moments and long walks in the winter weather. Here in (our part of) Sweden the first real snow started falling on Christmas day.

What is there to come then in 2015? Well, a lot of course! Our Swedish VAT number has arrived,so we are only short one more registration to start real business. Exciting! We will also do some traveling to old and new wine-countries for seeking out new producers. And we will work on growing our blog with new interesting posts, tips and reviews. But perhaps 2015 is too big to really capture in one post, so I will tell a little about the coming weeks. Next week, we will be travelling to London for touring some wine-shops and spending New Years eve at one of our favorite London Restaurants: Kitchen Table. And in two weeks we will finally head of for our long vacation in Asia, touring in Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore. It might be a period of fewer reviews on wine, but I suspect there will be some great stuff coming up on restaurants, cocktail bars and other culinary experiences. We read up that the coffee culture is really starting to boom in Bangkok, so that will be interesting to check out. Maybe there will be some posts on wine. I know there are some nice shops in Singapore where we end our journey. After three weeks on a “wineless-diet” I am sure I will be anxious to seek them out.

Merry Christmas from the Winecurious

It’s finally Christmas eve, they day we here in the land of Santa Claus celebrate and open presents. The old man is really from Finland, but I need to be a bit careful around the Swedes as they also claim Santa lives in their territory (but yes, Santa is really from Finland but it does not really matter that much to M as he claims Finland is just East Sweden). This is a day for spending with the family, not for blogging, but I sneaked off for a few minutes to discuss a dilemma I have: What wine should we have today? With a Christmas calendar full of great bubblies, I really have a difficult time deciding.

What would a good Christmas Champagne taste like? Perhaps creamy flavors of nuts and caramel would be appropriate on a day like this? I have some bottles that have been “waiting for an occasion”, like a Krug Grand Cuve, that are really not for saving but for opening within a year or two.  I also got a really wonderful bottle from the “winecalendar” today, the ancient variety champagne I have been raging about (for example in this post), the Oliver Horiot 5 Sens Brut Nature. That would be a really wonderful drink for today. But I feel torn as it’s really hard to come by with just 8000 bottles produced a year, and perhaps I should be patient and put it into long terms storage as it’s a 2008. Yes, this is not easy. I need to rummage through the cabinet and really put some thought into this. Will let you know when I have decided.

Now its time to get back to the family and socialize. I wish you all a wonderful Christmas! May you have great food and wine, and of course a great time with your loved ones!

Wineweek 4

And its Sunday again! December is flying by and our company is still waiting for registrations. So this is the time to accept that our precious Llagrima d’Or will not be reaching customers for the festive season. It’s a shame, but it was to be expected. I can totally understand the entrepreneurs who talk about the frustration of bureaucracy. And its not the actual amount of paper-work, its the waiting. There have been several reasons for the delays we have faced: long queues, sick-leaves and the latest was a software meltdown at the Swedish tax agency. Are we unlucky, perhaps, but its unlikely; there seems to be a pattern here. We have day jobs, so this company is not going to be the bread-winner in our family (yet); but what about those people who give up their jobs (or don’t have jobs) to start a company. Our case may not be the typical one as we are starting up a business in one country and then registering it as a distance sales company in another country, but one can really wonder if it should take as much as four to six months to get all the paper work in order. Well, this post is not a cry out to the politicians (I can’t even vote here yet), it’s just a little thought I had especially when hearing how politicians tend to say they want to make it easier for people to start their own business.

To happier things. We finally extended our office wine-space with two new cabinets. We have previously relied on a Climadiff that fits 142 bottles. Well in reality it doesn’t fit as many, as bottles of sparkling wine tend to take more space (and I am a sucker for nice wine-boxes). But since the summer, we have been stocking the increasing amount of wine on the floor in cardboard boxes. Actually I have been so confused about what we have lying around that M was able to hide all the wine-calendar wines right in front of my eyes, in those cardboard boxes. Well, now our wines are in a proper order and storage, and there should be some space left for more. At least for a while.

Other events this week included the arrival and tasting of our Port wines from Viera de Sousa, a young, interesting winemaker from Sabrosa (Portugal); Champagne after-work at Royal Copenhagen in Mood Gallery and some Perrier Jouet as our Friday bubbly. More about those in the upcoming week. Wishing you all a happy and relaxing evening!

A Few Weeks Down the Road

One of the main reasons we started this blog, was to talk about our journey on discovering wine via the founding of our own business: The Winecurious wineshop! This topic has not been that much in the spotlights yet, as I got carried away with tasting and reviewing. Wines and restaurants are a part of my weekly hobbies, so I guess it was very easy to start talking about that. But the idea of this blog is also for you to follow what is going on behind the scenes in a start-up wine-business, so I will now take the opportunity to write about that.

Let’s start from the beginning!

We started our company in Denmark, a country foreign to both of us, but with a reputation for being very straightforward for running a small business. Why not Finland or Sweden? One word: state-monopoly. So Denmark was the closest to the culture we are used to that has a free market. Not as easy as was advertised though. Registration papers were all in Danish, electronic identification only for Danish residents, and the tax authority’s phone lines only open from 9am to 2pm on weekdays (wtf). So we had to do it the old fashioned way, filling in paper forms and posting them by snail-mail, and calling afterwards to check if they had been received. It all worked out though, with the help of Invest in Denmark and a local accountant, we made it happen; and about a month ago, we received our registration number. That moment was intensely celebrated with bubbly.

But that was just the first step. Next in line was to register for a VAT numbers (Danish and foreign), distant sales licenses, and to sign contracts for warehousing and logistics. We both work in procurement (buying of things), so making these kinds of contracts is every day business for us. However, it is a completely different thing negotiating as a start-up company than behind the business card or a larger corporation. The key was to find the right size of a partner, someone who was interested to listen to your plans of growth and to give you a chance as a customer. Someone who also understands that the tables might turn someday =). So with some patience from us and our suppliers, contracts were signed and VAT numbers received. The great thing about family vineyard is that you are discussing with fellow entrepreneurs, who understand the obstacles that one has when starting a business.

And now our first wines are ready to be loaded on a truck to take them from Spain to Denmark. After months of paper-hell, our beloved Llagrima d’Or and Peret Fuster Cavas are finally ready to be dispatched. We hope to have them available for home delivery before Christmas and New Year, but we still need to wait for a distant sales license to our primary focus market, Sweden. Let’s see if the Swedish tax-Santa grants us our wish and handles the registration on time. If not, well, then we just suck it up and wait for the January “detox” to pass.

Perhaps a bit off topic, but someone who has started reading the blog from the beginning might be by now wondering why on earth am I reviewing and complementing products that compete with the ones we will be selling. The answer is very simple: I also love other wines, and want to complement quality. I appreciate a large selection, and believe, that the more people know about quality wines and the options on the market, the more there will be interest in the topic in general. So I am aiming to stimulate the overall interest in wine (especially cava) and food, not only focus on my wines. This is why I went to business in the first place, to widen the selection.

The Start of the Journey

Let’s make this clear from the start; I am not an expert on wine! I’m not a sommelier, I haven’t worked in the industry and I am not even very knowledgeable when looking at the scope of information one can have on this subject. I am just wine-curious, and this is my journey to discovering what it is like to take a hobby one step further.

About a year ago a friend of mine asked me if I would like to start scoping the Swedish market for a product (cava) he already sells in other countries. I was very excited as this was my favorite bubbly, and I had been suffering of a severe lack of it for several years (living in countries with no importer for it).  So, if nothing else, I thought, I would be able to import it just for me. Hmmm. the pallet would last me for some time, but we had cellar-space. Luckily the reaction from my friends and acquaintances was the same as mine, many of them loved it; loved it so much, that they were ready to buy cases of it.

However, this experiment opened another door; a door to realization of how many other wines it would be great to get my hands on. The local monopoly store is a great shop, don’t get me wrong, but in today’s free-market environment, I object to someone else deciding the menu I can choose from. Even with an endless selection, there was a whole world of wine out there calling for me.

So now it’s done! We recently started a company with my best friend and partner in crime, my husband. The company was founded in Denmark and will start selling small producer wines within the EU; wines that have no chance at ending up on the shelves of the monopoly-shop and are somewhat different from the main-stream products on the market. We start this journey as a hobby, but a hobby with an ambition to grow it into a healthy business. We have very little idea on what we are getting ourselves into, but it is the journey that is exciting, not only the result. Even with all the, hmmm, negative talk about running your own business, I still have confidence in entrepreneurship. Even if we finish this journey with no profit, we will be richer due to the experience.

Skol! For the start of the journey.
Skol! For the start of the journey.

So what can you expect from this blog? Wine reviews of course! But also thoughts on restaurants, bars, cafes and shops. Writing about food and tastes. And a story about how to run (or how not to run) your own business in wine. I will of course be writing about the wines we will sell, however, I think it’s important to recommend other good products as well. Not so much for our own business, but to boost people’s curiosity in wine and help people find the great products that are available out there. There is not that much about my personal life, I’m afraid, but that’s not that exciting anyways. The ambition is to share what I discover and learn and have some fun while doing it.

Hopefully you will like it and find yourself excited about the journey too!