A Scandinavian question: "Sistembolaget"?

Disclaimer: although this question was triggered by some homework, I do not need the answers in order to do the homework, ok?

I’m doing a translation on wines for a class and there’s a sentence about “first place in Swedish Systembolaget.” Systembolaget being a foreign word in both of the languages involved, it’s going to stay as is, I don’t need to either translate or explain it any more than the original author did.

But the information I find about it says it’s the Swedish alcohol monopoly. Do they give any kind of prizes, or was the author winging it? This second option wouldn’t be a surprise, the text has enough factual errors to make me want to feed him a bottle of wine without taking the cork off.

Thank you!

I think this term refers to the fact that in Sweden, there is a state monopoly on the sale or supply of alcohol. No private company can sell it, only the government. Retailers can stock and sell alcohol, but the government both acts as the wholesaler and grants the license.

One consequence of this is that many Swedes take the train over to Denmark, the libertarian centre of the world, where anyone can sell alcohol to anyone (more or less). This is very easy in the south of the country, thanks to the cheap, frequent and excellent train service across the engineering miracle that is the Oresund Bridge.

The Swedes either drink all they want in Denmark and then come home, or they try to smuggle some booze back on the train. This is very easy to do as there is very little by way of ‘border security’. The authorities do occasionally sweep through the train and could, in theory, confiscate any alcohol they find. But hey, it’s Sweden. The chances of anyone actually getting caught or being hassled for this minor offence is so low it’s practically off the scale.

I’ve never heard of them doing anything like that. Moreover, among their ethical guidelines are
A) to be brand neutral
and
B) to not actively encourage the sale of alcohol.

Giving prizes would certainly violate A, and arguably B.

Might the “first place” refer to popularity i.e. sales figures rather than an award? (Just a WAG, assuming the phrase you cite was already translated from some other language into English)

The Systembolag does have a magazine (“Bolaget”), which does review wines, write about food and contain the obligatory articles about alcohol abuse. It’s not impossible that it has holds regular wine competitions.

Sofis: The Systembolag is famed (and often brags about) its very knowledgeable employees, who frequently recommend wines. This would be no worse than a wine competition.

Ianzin: Actually, you’re incorrect when it comes to importing alcohol to Sweden. The EU laws are actually quite generous, and Sweden is as a member forced to abide by them. Anyway, since Sweden entered the Schengen agreement, there is basically no customs to pass through anyway. Customs officials will only strike when a shipment is obviously too large for home use, and even then they have to prove in court that the accused wasn’t just importing beer for a big party he’s holding.

Usually people get taken by the traffic cops on the other side of the bridge for having loaded their vehicles above the legal weight.

Sounds like that particular wine has landed first in some tasting organised by Systembolaget, which is indeed the Swedish retail monopoly, but it might just as be a number one seller.

It’s the other way round. Once upon a time there were two monopolies, one wholesaler, Vin- och spritcentralen, and one retailer, Systembolaget. After the wholesale monopoly was abandoned Vin- och Sprit, as the company was renamed, lived on primarily as a manufacturer of spirits, most notably Absolut vodka, but has recently been sold to Pernod Ricard in France.

Giving away prizes to each other is a long tradition in the alcohol-manufacturing World.

Systembolaget being run by the government doesn’t stop it from being opiniated. On the contrary, I think Systembolaget feels obligated to provide sound guidelines.

When I was last in Sweden (3 years ago) there was considerable anguish about a steep rise in illegal purchases of alcohol, principally via internet sites. The amount of booze obtained this way was said to becoming quite significant, and alcohol-related problems, especially among the young, were claimed to be increasing to troubling levels. The big appeal of this illegal option was the high prices charged by the government monopoly.

Anyone know if this trend has continued?

I don’t know, really. Primarily because I’m just not interested. 99% of what alcohol I drink is pub beer, but I might buy a bottle of gin or something if I’m enticed to go on a cruise to Finland. Honestly, I don’t understand how people can spend so much time and effort just to get cheap booze.

Thanks guys, it seems to match the original article’s general tendency to inflate and distort information.

Nava: What’s the language pair for this particular assignment? If the source language is Swedish, could I see that portion just out of curiosity? (I’m also a friend of Henry :slight_smile: )

Systembolaget do review of new products to decide what to stock. Products are given a relative rank and only the ones that are thought to be of good quality goes on sale in stores. Considering systembolaget has a monopoly in sweden this is HUGE for the producer of the product virtually guaranteeing high volume sales.
Possibly the origin of the “first prize” comment.

Sorry, Olentzero: Spanish/English.

OK, it was worth a shot…