I’ll Drink to That: Swedish Beverage Manager Totte Steneby

Episode 428 of I’ll Drink to That! was released recently, and it features Totte Steneby, who is the Beverage Manager at Portal restaurant in Stockholm, Sweden. Totte is also a European brand ambassador for the Sandhi and Domaine de la Cote wineries, and he imports some wines into Sweden as well.

As a youth, Totte Steneby faced a dilemma that many young actors face: he was asked to play a kid on film but obliged to work like an adult for the portrayal. While normal kids get summer vacation off to have fun, child actors go to their business of acting like normal, fun kids. The paradox had real-life ramifications for Totte, which he describes in this interview. He doesn’t share exactly why he chose to give up acting in this interview, but perhaps it was the inner tension that ultimately led him to other pursuits. After a few subsequent false starts, Totte began working with wine in restaurants and found some success. The common stereotype holds that fine dining front-of-the-house work is also a kind of acting, but that doesn’t seem to fit Totte’s approach. Instead, he is honest and forthcoming to a fault in this interview. I get the sense that he was actually looking around for a subject he could be completely transparent about, and found wine. During the talk, Totte asserts that all kinds of opinions about a wine are valid, and in that assertion, you can sense his desire for some freedom of thought, for some freedom to share. Armchair psychology? Maybe, but it is also true that Totte has considered a lot about his own actions, and shares much of that thinking in this interview. Sometimes the stories he has to tell about his life seem funny, partly because of how astounding he himself seems to find them as he recalls them. Like some of the very best I’ll Drink to That! episodes, this interview isn’t so much about wine as it is about everything else.

Listen to this episode:

I’ll Drink to That is the world’s most listened-to wine podcast, hosted by Levi Dalton. Levi has had a long career working as a sommelier in some of the most distinguished and acclaimed dining rooms in America. He has served wine to guests of Restaurant Daniel, Masa, and Alto, all in Manhattan. Levi has also contributed articles on wine themes to publications such as The Art of Eating, Wine & Spirits magazine, Bon Appetit online, and Eater NY. Check out his pictures on Instagram and follow him on Twitter: @leviopenswine