Yes, They Make Wine in Finland!
Updated: Oct 5
While visiting Finland in 2019, I was given a couple of bottles of Finnish wine as a gift. I was curious to try them, because of course my first thought was "how can grapes grow so far north?" Well, David Cohen, the clever winemaker at AINOA Winery, is making wine from lingonberries, blueberries, cloudberries and even spruce tips. Voila! Wines of the forest! No grapes? No worries, be resourceful! And unique! Paola Guerro de Cohen is CEO at AINOA and is also gifted with an exquisitely sensitive palate, so she looks after both finances and quality control at the winery.
My favourite was HAVU, a lovely low -alcohol blush wine. Bright coral, fragrant and fruit-forward, it's crisp and bursting with flavours of lingonberries, honey and spruce tips. Vinified in stainless steel and sweetened with Finnish honey. Spruce tips complement the natural acidity. It would pair well with sushi, curries, hard cheeses, smoked trout or fruit desserts. 5% alcohol, residual sugar 120 g/l.
Not currently available in Canada, but if you're visiting Finland, you can find it at the liquor store, Alko, at the winery in Holloa and at fine restaurants around Finland.
AINOA award-winning wines are quickly gaining recognition across Europe and the U.S.A. Their raspberry dessert wine, Vaapukka, won Gold for Finland at the Concours Lyon 2019. Ainoa Sametti won silver medals at Vinalies in 2018 and 2019 and remains the only wine in the world made from berries ever awarded medals at Vinalies. Ainoa Kuningatar 2017 dessert wine was awarded a gold medal at the 2020 Vinalies Internationales in Paris.
There's more good news in 2021 about Ainoa wines: https://ainoawinery.com/journal/2021/6/18/ainoa-winerys-wines-exceed-all-expectations-four-gold-medals-from-france-in-one-week
To learn more, visit their website:
Jane Staples - Wine and Food Writer, Accredited Sommelier- 2020