Norway’s opinion leaders

Norway may be a monopoly country, but it has a thriving wine communication scene. Liora Levi reveals the major names.

Oslo, capital of Norway
Oslo, capital of Norway

Norway has a population of 5.2m people and the wine trade is close knit, particularly those who write about wine full-time. But although the country’s wine scene is relatively small, it has numerous influencers with loyal followers. 

Aase E. Jacobsen 

With an MBA specialising in product development and sensory science, Jacobsen made good use of her skills early on for her food and wine hobby. In 1995 she established Apéritif, a major trade magazine for food and drink, which in the same year went online as one of the first wine magazines in Norway to publish wine reviews on the Internet. Today the trade magazine has 43,000 readers, according to Kantar, while the website aperitif.no has 300,000 unique users, making it Norway’s most prominent food and drinks website. Her company remains family owned. When asked about her favourite wine region, she said the question was difficult. “It is like choosing one out of two children.” However, she thinks wine regions with a long gastronomic history, where food and wine are closely knit and where producers are looking for their own identity or trying to find their way back to the roots, are the most interesting. 

Arne Ronold MW

Ronold is one of Norway’s foremost wine experts as well as its first Master of Wine, a title he achieved in 1993. By then he had already been writing about wine for 10 years and was one of Norway’s pioneering wine critics. In 1986 he established the country’s most renowned wine magazine, Vinforum, which is still the most popular magazine with both professional and amateur wine enthusiasts. He is the author of about 20 books on wine, one of which is on the curriculum of all three sommelier education programmes in Norway. Occasionally Ronold conducts tastings and master classes for the wine trade and he is also one of the educators of the WSET Diploma. It is common knowledge that Ronold is an enthusiastic foodie, which in turn makes him a committed judge of The Nordic Prize — the annual award for the best restaurant of the Nordic countries. Although he is reluctant to name a specific wine region as his favourite, he admits that Piedmont scores high on the list. 

Merete Bø

Bø is one of Norway’s leading critics, who has an incredible database of wines tasted. She began her wine career as a sommelier and has twice held the title of Best Sommelier of Norway, and Best Sommelier of the Nordic countries. She also has 18 years as a wine critic on her resumé and currently writes for Dagens Næringsliv (DN), an important financial newspaper. While she rates every single wine she tastes, her biggest audience is the wealthy members of the population responsible for buying out high-end wines within hours of their release at the monopoly. She has written five wine books so far on different wine regions. She had no doubt when asked about her favourite: Burgundy.

Ingvild Tennfjord

Ingvild Tennfjord appeared out of the blue in 2012 after she decided to become a sommelier and write about wine from an educated point of view. She was already an experienced journalist in other fields and finished her wine education, including the WSET Diploma, over the course of just a few years. To gain the knowledge needed on winemaking, wine regions and producers, she and her husband sold their house and belongings and travelled the wine world for a full year with their two young children. During this time she began writing about wine for Aftenposten, one of Norway’s major newspapers. She wrote about her journey not only through the wine world, but also on becoming a sommelier and invited her readers to follow her learning curve. She is about to release her sixth wine book. Tennfjord is enormously popular for conveying wine in a simple and unpretentious way.

Ulf Dalheim 

Dalheim had his first article published at the age of 17 and has worked as a full-time journalist for Adresseavisen newspaper in Trondheim since 1973. In his 45 years of writing for the newspaper he wrote about more or less everything, from news, culture and economy to business, until becoming a wine critic in 1990. After a major downsizing in the newspaper industry in 2017, Dalheim accepted a severance package and is now running Norway’s largest wine club, VinPuls, full-time. VinPuls was established in 2000 and has 3,000 members who enjoy wine fairs, tastings, winemaker dinners, wine lectures and trips to wine regions around the world. He has written and co-authored eight books, four of which are dedicated to wine, food and travel. Dalheim is by far the most influential wine critic in his part of the country. When asked about a favourite wine region he admits to being a big fan of Andalucia where he has a holiday home, but when it comes down to it Piedmont ranks on the top of his list. 

 

Other critics of note

Edvard Skramstad is the wine columnist for Verdens Gang (VG), one of the two main tabloids. The other is Dagbladet, where Robert Lie, the Best Sommelier of Europe 2006, has a weekly column. 

Geir Salvesen was the main wine critic for Aftenposten for more than three decades. As well as covering politics, he was also one of the pioneers of wine writing and he is the author of numerous wine books. Although he retired last year, he still has many loyal followers on his blog.

Svein Lindin is the wine journalist for Finansavisen, a business newspaper published by Hegnar Media, and KapitalVin, which is a new wine initiativefrom Hegnar Media. 

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