A game of Wine Monopoly
Actually, as far as we know, there's not a game called Wine Monopoly. What we're talking about is the Vinmonopolet shops in Norway, which are the ONLY places to buy wine (or spirits) in the whole country. Our interest in Norway was even higher than normal this week (like all Orcadans, we are mildly interested in Norway most of the time.) That's because of a little challenge we set our customers for the month of May, part of our four-week celebration of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc...
What we are challenging our customers to do is send us photos of them drinking Kiwi Sauv Blanc in some distant or exotic part of the world. At a push we might allow them to be drinking Sauv Blanc bought wherever they are, but ideally we want it to be a bottle from our shop.
Which is exactly what Ingrid of Stenness did when she flew across the North Sea to visit her friends Ida and Petter on a little island west of Bergen. (With a very good ferry service, in true Norwegian fashion.) Wrapped up safely in Ingrid's suitcase was a bottle of Herringbone Hills Sauvignon Blanc from sunny Marlborough - a gift for her Norse pals.
It's a few weeks early for the midnight sun, but it was still pretty light at 10pm, and down by the jetty everyone was feeling good.
After the bottle was gone, they all wanted more Herringbone Hills, but in Norway that's not necessarily easy. For a start, by 10pm it was far too late: the Vinmonopolets close at 6pm. So what Kiwi Sauv Blancs are available in Norway? The happy answer is - quite a few! In fact the monopoly's website currently lists no fewer than 46!
No need to list them all here, but we will just mention the ones that we sell in Kirkness & Gorie too: Cloudy Bay, Greywacke, Gladstone Vineyards, Tinpot Hut and Seresin. That's a pretty high-quality choice, Norway: make the most of it!
But only within sensible limits! The whole point of the Vinmonopolet system is to reduce the social problems that alcohol over-consumption can cause. It's a philosophy which at first glance seems very different from the system operating in Scotland (and most other European countries.) Here's what their website says:
'Eliminating the profit motive gives Vinmonopolet room to manoeuvre in meeting key social objectives, such as securing responsible social control of sales. As a retail chain, the company must operate with the emphasis on responsibility, service and cost-efficiency.'
Actually, come to think of it, those three emphases at the end are pretty much what we aim for too, so maybe there's not that much difference between us and them after all. And we certainly have in common: a love for good Kiwi Sauvignon Blanc...