Denmark’s communicators

Denmark, Scandinavia’s free alcohol market, has a rich diversity of wine opinion. Elsebeth Lohfert introduces the communicators.

Thomas Ilkjær, Thomas Rydberg
Thomas Ilkjær, Thomas Rydberg

Denmark has no MWs to sit at the top of the hierarchy of wine communicators. Instead, doctors and other academics do the job, with journalists being the rarest species. Many communicators overlap and work for several media outlets and in educational activities, which have increased considerably the past decade. The newspapers remain important, not least because of their weekly ratings of wines from the big multiples and the independent retailers. Good ratings are widely used by the trade for promotion. 

The people

Thomas Ilkjær gave up his academic career to become a full-time wine communicator and has since written numerous articles as well as two books on Italian wine. In 2007 he established Vinakademiet, an academy offering sommelier education with the WSET Level 3 in wine and Sake. He is also on shift with the part-time wine writer, Henrik Steen Andersen, responsible for the newspaper Politikens’ weekly wine consumer column.

Ilkjær, together with food and wine magazine Gastro’s wine columnist, René Langdahl Jørgensen, is responsible for one of the most interesting and influential new wine education initiatives. Since 2014 they have arranged The Danish Championship in blind tasting (DM i Blindsmagning); in 2018, 47 teams competed against one another.

Søren Frank is the most well-known wine and food writer in Denmark. He has published books about Champagne, Burgundy, Barolo and Cognac, and one on food and wine pairing. He does wine features for the newspaper Berlingske Tidende where he also writes the weekly wine column on shift with part-timer Rolf Madsen, who has his own blog at vineXpressen.dk

Since 2008, Thomas Rydberg has been the wine editor of the Danish tabloid newspaper Ekstra Bladet and its website ekstrabladet.dk/vin. In 2014 he published a book on Spanish wine and in 2015 he began publishing DinVinGuide, now the only specialist printed Danish wine magazine. He has been the editor of de100bedstevine.dk (the 100 best wines) since 2012 and he organises consumer tastings in Copenhagen.

Journalist and author Niels Lillelund, is the newspaper Jyllands-Posten’s wine and food reporter. He shares the job with former air traffic controller Anders Halskov-Jensen. He also does a consumer wine tasting with a panel for the magazine Penge & Privatøkonomi every month. 

Ole Troelsø is the author of several books, as well as being the food and wine critic at the Børsen newspaper.

Morten Vilsbæk is the food and wine editor of the regional newspaper Danmark and produces a section that is published in all 13 newspapers of Jysk Fynske Medier. Kenneth Klingenberg and Morten Guldberg also contribute part-time to the Friday and Sunday wine columns.

Sommelier Tim Vollerslev became a TV star in 1998 talking about wine on Good Morning Denmark. He is now the wine columnist for the tabloid newspaper BT.

For decades, Jørgen la Cour-Harbo, a former TV journalist, has written about wine for the regional newspaper Nordjyske Stiftstidende (Nordjyskeplus.dk) where he contributes features, news and tastings.

Every Saturday at five o’clock there is a one-hour radio programme called Flaskens Ånd (“The spirit in the bottle”) where wine is the mediator of the conversation with a person interviewed by Poul Pilgaard Johnsen. He is a renowned journalist at the weekly newspaper Weekendavisen, where he also writes wine features.

Vinbladet has been owned and published since 1992 by medical doctor Peter Winding and is now a digital publication on vinbladet.dk. Winding has written two books about Bordeaux and done wine TV programmes.

Every Monday since 1998 many Danes have read the news published from the wine world at vinavisen.dk, owned and published by father and daughter, Anker Tiedemann and Mariette Tiedemann.

Mads Jordansen was a wine importer before he turned to wine writing with his webpage Winelab.dk. He also writes for DinVinGuide, teaches at Vinakademiet and organises consumer wine tastings.

Erik Skovenborg, a medical doctor, has written for Vinbladet since 1994 and published a weekly column on wine for the newspaper Søndagsavisen since 2005. He has also published articles internationally in World of Fine Wine and the Chinese wine press, and has published books about wine and health and on women and wine.

Niels Ehler has been a professor at the Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University, but written about wine since 1984. He has published several books on wine and numerous articles, now also on vinbladet.dk.

Jørgen Aldrich, a former foreign correspondent, has written about wine part-time since 1973. He is now retired, but still reports for to vinbladet.dk and vinavisen.dk.

Elsebeth Lohfert is the editor of Vinbladet

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