This year’s harvest of Sweden’s tastiest seasonal fruit and berries is currently hanging on branches in my neighbourhood. The trees are heavy with bright red tart apples and light green juicy pears. Heaven for a drink producer with the ability to transform freshly picked fruits and berries into mealtime refreshments.
Drinks that stand out and are a real alternative to stronger options. And lately, many Swedes have discovered the joy of regional drinks. We must give chefs and restaurateurs the space they need to create successful combinations, so that the drink and the food join in a ‘bon mariage’, as they say in culinary French. Where the drink caresses all the many twists and turns of your mouth and deliciously complement the well-prepared piece of lamb med newly roasted root vegetables.
We all know that food and drink go together and where carefully chosen ingredients are combined with the right drink, the result is an uplifting experience. Claes Wernersson, Food Ambassador and drinks producer from Qvänum Mat & Malt is passionate about Swedish drinks. And has put a lot of time and effort into highlighting combinations of regional food and drink.
You are the person behind the initiative ‘Drinks in Sweden, the Food Country’, what is that?
– It’s a national drinks initiative, set up to promote local food and drinks in combination. This is interesting from a number of perspectives, says Claes.
In his experience, many of us choose to serve wine with our food and a glass of Italian Prosecco before dinner out of habit. Claes feels this is a shame, as there is so much more to discover. Like a fresh, light apple juice with a splash of schnapps. Another topic close to Claes’ heart is that we must learn to enjoy schnapps in the right way. He is adamant that Systembolaget is not doing their job properly when they tell customers to enjoy their schnapps well chilled.
– I think spiced schnapps should be served at room temperature or cellar cold. Otherwise you simply do not get the taste. What we need is to learn to enjoy schnapps as a mealtime drink, and to sip it, Claes exclaims.
There is also a huge range of different Swedish beers to explore. Brewed by smaller breweries and perfect as accompaniment to various dishes. However, he says, beer is more difficult than wine. You need more expert knowledge to be able to match the bitterness of a beer to different meals.
– With a slightly fattier lamb roulade, I would serve a really bitter beer. But a lamb stew with roasted root vegetable would instead be accompanied by a darker beer with more caramelised tones, to complement the sweetness of the root vegetables, Claes explains.
And if you prefer to sample interesting alcohol-free alternatives, blueberry or sloe drinks from Ren Dryck in Munkedal would go very well with lamb. Milk lovers also have lots to choose from. Try goat milk from Dalsspira Dairy in Dalsland with the Swedish classic ‘Biff à la Lindström’. Whatever your preference, exploring the vast number of different drinks on offer is exciting. And here, the most important decision is not with or without alcohol, but instead what will work best with the food on your plate. In this way, complex flavours are given the opportunity to blossom and to form an entirely Swedish harmony on your palate.
Text: Maria Zihammou
Photos: Lisa Nestorson, Mikael Almse