The Norwegian government’s wine shops are consciously making it difficult to buy Israeli wine off-the- shelf, politicians allege.
Vinmonopolet’s site lists two wines available for order, one of them is Golan Heights’ ‘Gamla’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 red.
The supposed scarcity has upset Israel’s Friends MPs in Parliament, who fear this could be a conscious move on behalf of the government-run organisation. Some academic environments in Norway have actively encouraged boycotting Israeli goods.
Progress’ (FrP) committee leader Jøran Rytman declares, “I only got hold of a bottle [of ‘Gamla’] when I went into Vinmonopolet’s Oslo shop in Thereses gate,” he tells The Foreigner, “3-4 others I phoned said they didn’t have it.”
Shop staff The Foreigner spoke with in Stavanger, Norway’s fourth-largest city, located on the west coast, said delivery would take two days.
“I take it for granted that Vinmonopolet will treat wine from Israel as from every other country. Otherwise, it will be an act of discrimination,” Hans Olav Syversen, Christian Democratic Party (KrF) MP, writes in an SMS.
Like any business, Vinmonopolet is free to buy any wine it chooses. Nevertheless, customers wanting a particular wine only have to ask shop staff to import it.
“We have almost 15,000 products in our selection, bought from close to 300 importers. The biggest shops stock between 2-3,000, whilst the smaller ones have about 400,” says Head of Communications Jens Nordahl.
“Countries such as India, Montenegro, Luxembourg, and Israel only produce smaller amounts. Whilst we have some of their wines listed, we cannot afford to keep all of them in stock at any one time.”
According to the Ministry of Health and Care Services, Vinmonopolet’s superior, consumers and politicians are also free to become wine importers and promote certain wines towards the government monopoly.
Deputy Minister Ragnhild Mathisen dismisses claims of politically motivated wine choices as “certainly not correct”.
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