In the cellar at The Sparrow

Stockholm, Sweden

In the cellar at The Sparrow, Stockholm, Sweden

A stone's throw from Stockholm's hottest spot Stureplan there is a French watering hole called The Sparrow. The facade is discreet, but the tricolor tells us we've come to the right place.  

Inside, another world awaits; a stylish bar area in dark wood and leather. Further in, the bistro opens up with wooden tables, café chairs in bent wood and colorful art along the walls. The wine list is 40 pages long.

The Sparrow is a wine bar, bistro and hotel, owned by the five-star Grand Hôtel with star chef Mathias Dahlgren at the helm. Mathias was the first Swede to win the Bocuse d'Or in 1997. Head sommelier André Seerup has been involved since the project started, in autumn 2018. He couldn’t resist working with Mathias. And he couldn’t resist the theme – France.

wine glass illustration

Better to go deep

The Sparrow will be like a French bistro, with classic food – foie de canard, tarte flambée, moules frites, steak au poivre and oyster au vinaigre. The wine list will match the menu and take a broad approach. "In the beginning, we also had some wines from other countries, and although I managed to get allocations from the top Barolo producers, we decided to go 100% French. To go in depth. We want to show the possibilities that exist there. We have wines from basically all French wine regions, although we have a lot of Bourgogne", says André Seerup. In total, the wine bar and bistro have over a thousand listings.

Emphasising terroir over name

The wine list is built on the basis of terroir and place rather than producer. Under Bourgogne, for example, you will find Côtes de Nuits and under that Vosne-Romanée – Grand Cru, Vosne-Romanée – Premier Cru and so on. To name a few for those who are really picky, they have Domaine Romanée-Conti Echezeaux Grand Cru 2020 and Domaine Ponsot Chambertin-Clos de Beze Grand Cru 2009. André Seerup thinks that French wine is holding up well globally, despite tough competition. "Old traditions remains, which is positive, but the French are not standing still. They have a strong development on the organic side, but they are not categorical. It's more crossover – you make the wine you like."

Corsica – an undiscovered gem

”Personally, I am very passionate about Corsica. It's extremely fun. Yes, I have personal reasons – I worked there for two years and met my wife there – but they have a specific terroir that produces incredibly exciting wines. It's super hot, but super elegant. Thanks to cooler nights, you get both warm fruit and good acidity, especially in the Vermentino. I always try to have Corsican wines by the glass. You see this more and more elsewhere, too, like in wine bars in Paris. Corsica is coming on strong.”

Relaxed approach to pairings

André Seerup obviously has food in mind when choosing wine, but reminds us that The Sparrow is a bistro and that nine out of ten wines go well with what you want to eat. Glasses range from sparkling, white, red and orange to oxidized and sweet. They also have a chalkboard with the evening's picks. "Sure, you might prefer a full-bodied red with steak au poivre, but you should be able to drink what you want. When I go out myself, I first choose what I want to drink, then I decide on the food. It's nice that there has been a more relaxed approach to food pairing. Today, it's more acceptable to mix as you like. There is no right answer."

Aligoté has a lot to offer

In the wine list, there is one category that stands out from terroir thinking, even though all the wines are from the same region: Bourgogne Aligoté. The region's second white grape deserves more attention, and there are currently 17 bottles to choose from, including a 2017 from Ramonet. "Aligoté is not well known. It is a misunderstood grape. It can produce high quality wines, and when the vines get older, they can handle hot vintages more easily. There are very good wines in good price ranges, but Aligoté is still a bit of a 'sommelier wine'. Those who know, they know."

Prolong the experience

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