Gunnar Skoglund: ”A great wine list challenges my preconceptions”

Gunnar Skoglund.
Andreas Grube
Published 19-June-2023
Interview / Norway

Wine importer, blogger and writer Gunnar Skoglund left a career in finance to work with wine full-time. Now he also joins the Star Wine List team as our Oslo ambassador.

”It feels great indeed! I’ve always rated Star Wine List highly and have been using it extensively when travelling – on occasions even deciding which hotel to book, just to be within walking distance of nice wine-focused restaurants and bars. It’s the perfect guide for us wine geeks, and it feels great to be a part of it,” says Gunnar.

Gunnar Skoglund has lived in Oslo for around 25 years and says that he has experienced first-hand the city’s ”wine scene turnaround from zero to hero”.

His career started off in finance, but a growing wine interest led to sommelier studies in his spare time in 2010 and 2014. In 2011 his passion for both wine and writing encouraged him to start the blog “Husets Vin” (House Wine). Three years later, it was awarded best drinks blog by VG, Norway's largest newspaper, at the Matprisen Award Show. This award also opened the door for his first (and only) book on wine, also named “Husets Vin”, published in 2015.

The year after, he left his career in finance, as one of the leading Norwegian wine importers, Vinarius, gave him an offer he couldn't refuse. Today he still works for Vinarius as Head of Communications as well as Portfolio Manager for large parts of their portfolio.

Furthermore, it’s the perfect arena to marry my two passions: writing and wine!

And, now he joins Star Wine List as our new Oslo ambassador.

What are you looking forward to the most in your new ambassador role?
”Admittedly I haven’t given that part of it much thought. Of course, there’s an added bonus of being ’forced’ to stay on my toes and it provides the perfect excuse to go out more often. Not too shabby, I guess. Furthermore, it’s the perfect arena to marry my two passions: writing and wine!”

What makes a wine list great, in your opinion?
”For me, a great wine list challenges my preconceptions and at the same time also provides a few safe havens. It needs to tickle the mind, as well as the taste buds. I love it when the wine list (large or small) almost makes it impossible to choose.”

”A large by-the-glass program is always great, however smaller by-the-glass lists that rotate frequently are just as nice – as long as they are well curated, of course. The latter I guess is more challenging to admin for the venue, hence maybe even more impressive as such – as it tells whether you’re on your toes or not.”

Describe the wine scene in Oslo right now?
”In one word: vibrant. I like the fact that most of the new and newish places don’t take a side in this strangely polarizing ’natural or conventional’ thing you might find in other markets, but rather do offer eclectic wine lists that includes both wines considered more traditional or alternative/natural/low intervention/whatever the label. Furthermore, it is great to see that you can find interesting lists containing soulful wines at museums, upscale hotels, hole-in-the-wall bars and across the board.”

We see more and more indigenous varieties from ancient wine-producing areas left in the shadows for a while

What can you say about the development of the wine scene in Oslo? And how has it evolved since the pandemic and all?
”I wouldn’t say that too much changed really, after covid. I feel the vibe that was already there before these two difficult years is still going strong. Of course, Oslo is suffering as most other cities/countries, with talented staff leaving the industry. But the energy is still there, and Oslo as a wine city is more interesting and diverse than back in 2019.”

Any specific wine trends going on in Oslo right now?
”We see more and more indigenous varieties from ancient wine-producing areas left in the shadows for a while. Greece, for instance, is surely on the up. What many foreigners find peculiar is that Norway (at the northern frontier) has this hunger for lighter and more delicate wines – Pinot Noir, Gamay, Cinsault and all. You would think that big heavy wines should be dominating wine lists, however, that is not the case.”

”As for venues, we see more casual and informal wine bars serving hearty grub (made from prime raw material), pairing it with some really fine wines – creating an intriguing contrast.”

”The wine scene is diverse and constantly evolving. Not necessarily in the front seat of trends, but quick to adapt to what’s happening abroad. California (the ’new’ and delicate expressions) has been going on for quite a while though, Norway is at the forefront there for sure. Maybe South Africa comes next, the right wines and producers are already in the market – and have been for a while, but still not getting the attention it deserves.”

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