Munskänkarna - 23,000 winetasters in Sweden
Last weekend I visited Munskänkarna in Östersund, Sweden (yes the dots are supposed to be there, nothing wrong with your screen) to hold a tasting seminar at a wine fair with over 1,000 visitors. I was blown away by the knowledgeable group which is part of a 23,000 members strong Swedish non-profit association. The members go through rigorous classes in winetasting to distinguish between wines from all over the world. They do it for the fun and love of wine - they are not sommeliers or professionals, but beat many professionals with their professionalism. What a cool organization!
Since 1958 this non-profit association has spread the knowledge about wine and winetasting and now has over 23 000 members in 150 Swedish cities. Expat Swedes have also set up groups in 10 cities in other countries. All voluntary work by knowledgeable enthusiasts!
So there I was, in Östersund, a day’s drive north of Stockholm. The wine fair, open to the public, had over 1,000 visitors. There were interesting seminars on a number of wine tasting related topics as well as an exhibit with wines from all over the world, probably over 350 wines were presented. And this in a small city in the north of Sweden where you cannot grow a single grape. Imagine then all the other 150 cities in Sweden and their activies.
I was impressed with the member's interest not just in wine in general, but all the different styles and methods from around the globe and the resulting wines. They go through rigorous classes at increasing levels of difficulty in winetasting to differentiate between wines, grapes, wine styles, vintages and more. I did a wine tasting about the impact of time and oak in maturing wine. Fun and insightful comments from participants all along.
And they travel! They visit all the wine districts in the world. Everyone I met had been to many different wine regions. Some even to West Wines and other Sonoma County wineries! Now I hope we will see many more of them in our valley. They add great perspective when they visit with an emphasis on combining fun with wanting to really learn more about wine.
If you get a chance to visit Sweden, see if you can get to visit one of their events or wine fairs. Email to firstname.lastname@example.org, they all speak excellent English. Their website though is in Swedish, but if you understand some Swedish here you go www.munskankarna.se.