Writers of Finland

Finland not only has a growing wine scene, but it has also produced a number of notable wine communicators. Ilkka Sirén reports.

Essi Avellan MW, Arto Koskelo, Tuomas Tanttu
Essi Avellan MW, Arto Koskelo, Tuomas Tanttu

The Finns put a notable emphasis on authenticity when it comes to food, beer and wine. Not only that, but the “hipsterfication” of neighbourhoods, as well as products, is also spreading like wildfire. Finnish consumers are savvy, enthusiastic and they travel a lot and, because of this, wine is slowly but surely making its way to the dinner table — even on a weekday. 
 

Wine lovers, however, must often turn to the internet and English content, due to the scarcity of good-quality wine content, beyond wine reviews. There is a handful of magazines and newspaper that cover wine on a semi-regular basis, but the content is often abrupt at best and wine writers can end up being one-trick ponies for one specific outlet. At the moment, there is practically no wine content on the Finnish television.

There used to be a noticeable distinction between the handful of “old guard” Finnish wine writers and the new more internet-oriented wine communicators, but this invisible line is all but gone. Wine writing in Finland has come a long way, though. In the 1980s, just a few decades ago, Finland’s alcohol monopoly Alko tried silencing wine writers by threatening them with lawsuits. Luckily, times have changed and nowadays the press is free to publish wine content at their will. 

Finland is a small country and the number of wine communicators reflects that. However, the handful of active wine writers manages to create some serious waves and clear out shelf space, partially due to the countrywide availability of wines through Alko. Today, these are the wine communicators making the most noise in the Finnish wine market. 

Essi Avellan MW

When she became Finland’s first Master of Wine, Essi Avellan skyrocketed to the top of Finland’s wine pyramid. She is one of the leading voices in the Finnish wine industry. Avellan has written several wine books such as Matka Champagneen and Parhaat Samppanjat and has also worked on the third edition of Tom Stevenson’s Christie’s World Encyclopedia of Champagne and Sparkling Wine. Her wine recommendations are frequently published in magazines such as Kauppalehti Optio, a business and lifestyle magazine, and Glorian Ruoka & Viini.

Tuomas Tanttu

Tuomas Tanttu is a Finnish wine and food journalist. He has been writing about wine for Glorian Ruoka & Viini, a popular food and wine magazine, for more than 10 years. In his Parhaat päältä wine column, Tanttu presents and reviews new wines from the monopoly’s wine selection. His practical and consumer-friendly tone makes his wine writing popular among wine enthusiasts. Additionally, he occasionally writes about trends in the wine industry and does freelance work for other magazines as well.

Pekka Suorsa

Suorsa is a veteran wine voice in Finland who has been writing about wine since the 1980s. He is the man behind Viiniopas (wine guide) — a popular wine book and mobile app with more than 6,000 wine reviews covering almost the entire wine selection at Alko as well as wines available in restaurants — and Finnair. He is also the wine critic for Ilta-Sanomat, one of the most popular newspapers in Finland. 

Arto Koskelo

After conquering the online platform with Finland’s most famous wine blog Viinipiru (wine devil), Koskelo went on to host a small wine segment on a morning television programme at Finland’s leading commercial media operator MTV3. Currently, he writes wine reviews for Iltalehti, a popular tabloid newspaper, and has published books about wine. He also hosts the morning show at Radio Helsinki.

Jouko Mykkänen 

Jouko Mykkänen has almost single-handedly educated an entire generation of the Finnish wine industry through the WSET programme at Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences. He has been writing weekly wine reviews for Helsingin Sanomat, Finland’s leading newspaper, since 2002. Because of the popularity of Helsingin Sanomat, he is probably the most influential wine critic in Finland.

 

Ilkka Sirén

Sirén, the author of this piece, is himself a notable Finnish wine writer. After he began blogging at ViiniTV in 2009, Sirén soon made a name for himself writing for leading publications. He writes wine reviews for Maku (Finland’s leading food magazine), Apu (Finland’s leading weekly periodical) and Anna (Finland’s leading women’s weekly), along with others. He also writes feature articles for VIINI, a Finnish wine magazine founded in 1989, and Forbes Finland. Internationally, he has written for Saveur, VICE, Wine Enthusiast and BBC Travel, among others. Sirén was shortlisted for the 2018 IWSC Wine Communicator of the Year. FC

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