Helsinki for wine lovers

BasBas Kulma
BasBas Kulma.

Neighbouring capital cities such as Copenhagen and Stockholm may have grabbed the spotlight earlier, but Helsinki has quietly gone about honing its culinary craft, while also developing a taste for good wine. The city’s restaurants have embraced the Nordic-cuisine ethos of simplicity, local ingredients and sustainability. Finland’s forests and pristine waters offer a bounty that runs the gamut from wild mushrooms and berries to fresh fish and game meats, all of which find their way onto Helsinki’s plates.

Finns, many of whom are first-generation wine drinkers, have learned to appreciate wine. This transformation is not only due to the tireless work of sommeliers, but also enthusiastic importers who have played a pivotal role in fostering the growth of a diverse wine scene.

Finland has strict alcohol laws, so there is no ‘bring your own’. Travellers seeking to purchase a bottle of wine to go are limited to the government-controlled monopoly Alko, which has hundreds of shops scattered across the country.

Helsinki map

Credit: Maggie Nelson

In Helsinki, wine lists are typically compact and focused on Europe. More and more places are offering a good selection of wines by the glass and, in keeping with international trends, there is a growing interest in natural wines made by small artisanal producers, which feature prominently on the lists of many bars located in the hip neighbourhoods outside the more-mainstream city centre.

Summer is a popular time to visit Finland, but if you’re eager to get acquainted with the local culinary scene, you should note that between late June and mid-August, many restaurants close their doors so their staff can take a holiday. (It’s also worth noting that most establishments are closed on Sundays and Mondays – and many are also closed on Tuesdays.) Better to come in spring, as Helsinki is emerging from its long winter slumber and the city blooms with vibrant hues.

Bar Petiit

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The aptly named Bar Petiit is a small wine bar located in Puu-Vallila, a wooden-house district 20 minutes by tram from downtown Helsinki. Owner Henri Ba?ckman, a local trailblazer in organic, biodynamic and natural wines, curates a delightful selection, together with Julius Saari, that caters to wine lovers seeking something unique. Showcasing small-scale producers such as Sicily’s Frank Cornelissen and Martin & Anna Arndorfer in Austria, the bar attracts a trendy crowd with an appreciation for both good music and quirky but delectable wines. There’s no wine list as such – bottles of the available wines hang on the wall for all to see. The bar doesn’t offer a food menu either; however, the charming restaurant Plein conveniently resides just across the street if you’re feeling peckish. @petiitbar

BasBas Kulma

Tehtaankatu 27-29

Opened in November 2015 by the dynamic duo of Nicolas Thieulon and Kalle Kiukainen, Baskeri & Basso Bistro (or just BasBas, as the locals call it) has been a game-changer in the Helsinki dining scene since its inception. BasBas Kulma, the acclaimed bistro’s younger sibling, offers a more approachable experience for those who find the original too elusive (it’s notoriously difficult to secure a table). Nestled in the same building as its big brother, BasBas Kulma is essentially a bistro, too, but with a bar counter where walk-ins can order small plates and choose from a dozen or so wines available by the glass, priced from about €11 to €16. The Europe-focused wine list features selections from numerous small artisanal wineries and vignerons, including a good number of natural wines. Despite all of the interesting wines, it’s the warm service that keeps people coming back for more.

Café Savoy

Eteläesplanadi 14

Credit: Anton Sucksdorff / Cafe Savoy

Café Savoy, the southern France-inspired offspring of the inimitable Savoy restaurant, with which it shares a building, became an instant classic when it debuted in 2022. While its unapologetically…

Source : https://www.decanter.com/wine/helsinki-for-wine-lovers-523162/