There is a new babe in town, a new haven for passionate lovers of wine and music.
Love and fate – those two words sum up how SmakAteljén came into existence. Four friends were brought even closer together by their passion for wine.
It began when sommelier David Isberg, a.k.a. DaKe, dreamed of a place where he could store his wine and perhaps arrange tastings for interested friends. For years, he and Fredde Lindberg had a private wine club of sorts, and they invited friends to try wines they had come across during their travels around the world touring in the music business, and talked about the wines and their regions of origin. Jesper Werngren and Andreas Vaple often participated in these get-togethers, as they too feel this same passion for wine and its mysteries. Champagne expert, sommelier, author and photographer Andreas Kjörling also brought a lot of inspiration to the discussions.
In the fall of 2015 DaKe opened an e-mail that he first thought was an ad for a wine club or an importer. Instead, incredible as it may seem, a wine tasting cellar in the centre of Stockholm was up for sale. The owners were keen that their cellar would live on, so very soon the whole gang was there to inspect the premises.
Despite poor timing for Vaple, and Fredde having made a promise to take a break from pubbing and clubbing, the parties reached an agreement, the place was paid for, licenses were applied for and access was granted, and soon the renovation work was underway. The first tastings have begun and members are gathering for new experiences.
SmakAteljén primarily offers tutoring and tastings of various kinds. The focus will be on wine, whiskey and beer, but other drinks and gastronomic treats will also be explored. In addition to in-house tastings, SmakAteljén will also present a wide variety of lecturers and tasting arrangers. Here you will encounter everything, from classic mannerisms to futuristic ideas and new regions, flavours and colours.
SmakAteljéns purpose was to open a place the four lads felt was missing in Stockholm – a forum for greater knowledge of the drink and taste experiences. With the broad range on offer, SmakAteljén will be an eagerly awaited watering hole for many, from novices to connoisseurs. At the time of writing, DaKe has decided to leave SmakAteljén for private reasons, but his concepts and visions will live on.
I met up with co-founder Vaple, a familiar face on the rock scene with a past as musician in various bands, as a sound engineer and a club organizer, to get some more inside stories about their new baby.
You all have various rocker backgrounds, what makes you believe music and wine are comparable? And do your ideas differ from each other, or was there a total symbiosis from scratch that brought you together?
There are many things that are similar and some other things that are not. Passion, composition and the combination of hard work and patience come to mind directly. It takes a certain kind of person to engage in wine-making or music-making. The list of similarities could go on forever. Heavy wine and heavy music, the different path that some wine makers take and non-commercial rock, some music not being for everyone and Barolo and so on.
Our ideas do differ, but we have a lot of common ground and share the same passion for wine and spirits. Our goal has always been to create something new and fresh and at the same time incorporate music into some of our tastings.
It’s not only wine at SmakAteljén – I’ve seen in your program that you have various tastings of cigars and beer too. Do you have any other surprises up your collective sleeve?
At the moment we won’t be able to do the cigar tastings and we’ll focus more on wine, beer, whisky, tequila and so on. We have just started to collaborate with a new partner for our upcoming chocolate tastings. Olive oil is also interesting for us and we are working on a tasting or maybe even a workshop. Vegetarian food has always been a taboo in the wine community and that in itself is reason enough for us to step in. We will unveil a line of tastings with a vegan theme soon!
What can one expect on your various theme nights? What makes SmakAteljén stand out?
We aim to entertain and at the same time educate our guests. SmakAteljén offers traditional tastings and tastings that are a little bit outside the box. Our 666 tasting for instance is a journey through hard rock and the various liquids associated with it. Our concept stand out with our wide range of collaborators and sommeliers, each one offering a different perspective and knowledge.
Is it only members that can swing by for a glass or is it also a sort of wine bar for the general public?
It is not a regular wine bar. We’re open only for those who have bought a tasting, the day that tasting takes place. Tastings can be purchased through our website. We sell tastings to anyone interested but we also do custom events for companies and groups. We have our own club and its members have a dedicated club evening on Mondays. Membership can be purchased by anyone and all members have 25 percent off the regular tasting prices.
Are you going to be serving bottles or by the glass, or is it only through tasting one can enjoy the drinks?
We sell bottles and glasses before and after the tasting to our guests. We have a bar that offers a wide range of cocktails, beer and spirits after the tasting.
What are your different areas of knowledge, and what do you prefer to pour for yourselves at home?
Fredrik, being old in the game and having owned a number of restaurants, has a vast experience of all drinkable liquids. I have a background in the restaurant business both as an owner and bar manager and I worked as a wine taster for a wine importer.
We drink a lot of beautiful wines but to summarise some of us are into Piemonte, some of us are into good Bordeaux, some of us open a few Grüner Veltliner every now and then, some of us enjoy a well-made Malbec and all of us feast on champagne. To quote a not-so-wise man in Chris Holmes of W.A.S.P. : “Too much of the really good stuff is enough for me”.
If you would pair wine with your favourite bands or vice versa, what would a list like that look like?
Opeth – Giovanni Rossi, Barolo La Serra
Led Zeppelin – Charles Smith, Velvet Devil Merlot
Slayer -Trapiche Malbec
Thin Lizzy – Chablis Vaulignot
What wine is the most metal according to your collective expertise?
Krüg! Brutal excellence! No more words needed!
Visit SmakAteljén at Rådmansgatan 72 in Stockholm or online at www.smakateljen.se