Five bars to drink natural wines in Stockholm
Publish date: 21 January 2021
Stockholm today is a city full of cosy candlelit wine bars and convivial craft beer joints. And so you’d struggle to believe that just 15 or so years ago these kinds of stylish drinking holes hardly existed in the city.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Swedish government has restricted the sale of alcohol in bars and restaurants, until May 17. All restaurants and bars must close at 8.30 pm (20.30). This might lead to some restaurants and bars not opening at all.
In recent years, Sweden’s capital has become well known around the world for its award-winning breweries and love affair with natural wine. It feels like a new wine bar is opening every other week and, over the last four years, I’ve made it a personal mission to try them all.
After much pain-staking and rigorous research, I’ve narrowed down this list to bring you my five favourite wine bars in Stockholm.
A Vasastan hideaway
My first trip to Ambar was on a dark, winter evening - something we’re no strangers to here in Sweden. It’s a few minutes walk from St. Eriksplan tunnelbana station on a quintessentially Stockholm street lined with yellow funkis-style apartment buildings.
The bar is a few steps down from the street which gives it a clandestine, hidden-away feeling. It specialises in orange wines and sherry but there are plenty of other wines and lagers to try too. It’s quite literally illegal to serve alcohol in Sweden without also serving warm food and so, while the wine is the main event, Ambar also serves some delicious Japanese nibbles. Wash down your edamame beans or dumplings with a glass of funky natural wine - it’s not your typical pairing but by golly does it work.
Niklas Ekstedt's wine café
Stockholm is home to famed Swedish chef Niklas Ekstedt’s eponymous Michelin-starred restaurant. If you don’t have the time (or the cash) to enjoy a leisurely meal in the fine dining eatery, you can still enjoy a glass of natural wine and a simple dish in Ekstedt’s wine café just a couple of minutes' walk away.
Tyge & Sessil’s ever-changing wine list is a catalogue of natural wines from small, often still-under-the-radar producers. You wouldn’t really expect anything less when wine connoisseur Maximilian Melfors, also the sommelier for Ekstedt, is running the show. It’s in the posh part of town, not far from Stureplan, but still has that pared-down vibe you’d associate more with Södermalm (which is globally dubbed Stockholm’s ‘hipster island’).
Where wine meets recycling
Stockholmers are as fanatical about coffee as they are about natural wine, and Savant is where the two worlds collide. In fact, it’s the home of artisanal everything. From natural wine and craft coffee to probably the most beautiful handmade chocolates you’ve ever seen and melt-in-your-mouth Swedish cheeses - it’s a veritable smorgasbord of all that makes your mouth water.
Better yet, it has a really chilled atmosphere and the staff are always happy to help you find the right tipple for your taste. Savant has a zero-waste vision, there’s no plastic in sight and all of the decor is recycled which is about as Stockholm as you can get.
Snacks, beer & fine wines
Fine, I’m cheating a bit here because technically Katarina Ölkafé is a taproom (the name gives it away) but there are options for winos on the menu too. As well as a constantly-updated selection of craft beer, you can enjoy a glass of red, white or rosé natural wine, one of three house cocktails (if you fancy something off the menu, the website states they will “do their best”) or a bloody good Bloody Mary.
Another major lure is the food menu which is a mix of NYC Jewish gastronomy (think matzo ball soup and hands-down one of the best Reuben sandwiches in the city), macaroni cheese combos and small snacks like canned Bonito Tuna and Iberico ham.
Where Stockholm meets the Mediterranean
You could say Café Nizza is where Italy, France and pared-back Stockholm cool meet. It’s a favourite among locals, unfussy and lively with a solid selection of natural and traditional wines. It’s a restaurant but that doesn’t mean you have to sit down to the full four-course set menu - you can also pop in for a glass of vin and some bar nibbles. But if you want my advice, don’t leave without trying the cacio e pepe - it really is something to write home about.