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December 15th, 2021

Uncork your wine knowledge – with Norway’s champion sommelier

December 15th, 2021

Written By

Liv Nordgarden

Travel Content Creator

Henrik Dahl Jahnsen is a glass-half-full kind of guy

As Wine Director and Head Sommelier at Trondheim’s Michelin-starred Speilsalen restaurant, he recently scooped the Norwegian Wine Championship for the fifth time, as well as the Michelin Nordic Countries Sommelier Award 2021. I grew up with Henrik, and I have seen his passion for food and wine develop through the years. In light of his recent milestones, I wanted to take this opportunity to catch up and give him my congratulations. I know Henrik is currently fizzing with anticipation about post-pandemic Norway opening up and looking forward to filling the glasses of wine-loving guests from all over the world.

How did your love for wine start?

I first realised I had an interest in wine when I was working as a waiter at Bølgen og Moi, on the quay of Kristiansand in southern Norway. This was an opportunity that came from my aunt and uncle giving me a culinary course for teenagers when I was in ninth grade. One day at work there was an incident where one of the tables was served the wrong wine – a Chablis, when they had actually ordered a Petit Chablis. I didn’t understand why this was such a big deal, as the wine came from the same producer in the same region, and carried the same price tag. But that day I got to taste both wines side by side, and was amazed by the difference! I truly believe this experience was the starting point of my love for wine.

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After 12 years at Bølgen og Moi, I got the opportunity to join Speilsalen (the Hall of Mirrors) at Britannia Hotel in Trondheim. Speilsalen curates a food journey for each individual guest, with only the finest, hand-picked ingredients prepared with the utmost care and respect. To complement the head chef's creations, I am in charge of wine and other drink pairings.

In the future, I would love to build Norway, and Britannia in particular, as true destinations for wine lovers. Norway has grown exponentially as a foodie destination in the last few years, with Nordic cuisine at the forefront. I believe we have great potential from our traditional cured meats and our long experience with salmon. With more and more new producers entering the market, I see a future full of guests travelling here to experience the true Nordic cuisine.

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What makes a good sommelier?

Without wanting to sound clichéd, I really think becoming a good sommelier is all about practice. It is essential to understand the theory in order to be able to provide the best possible service to our guests. As well as the practice, of course, you need a healthy dose of passion and commitment.

I would also add that wine has been consumed for thousands of years, and is viewed as an everyday drink in southern Europe. I think enjoying wine is all about keeping it simple, and not overcomplicating the experience. Wine should be enjoyed without the pressure of performing or knowing all aspects of wine tasting. It’s no secret that my personal favourite wine is Champagne. If I had to pick a single wine producer, Krug would be high on my list. Unfortunately, Champagne is often underestimated as a wine pairing, even though it has indisputable qualities that make it an exquisite dining experience.

As our local wine insider, are there any trade secrets you are willing to divulge?

Knowledge increases the joy of wine. Wine as an agricultural product requires knowledge to get that extra dimension out of it. As with all finer things in life, you will appreciate them more if you understand them. There is no point in driving a Bentley if you do not appreciate the comfort and luxury it brings. In my experience, not everybody who drinks wine has really 'tasted' it. By this, I mean consciously savouring the wine. I really enjoy guiding guests through the full wine experience and helping to spark their own joy.

Up Norway guests can now enjoy their own ‘grape escape’ at Speilsalen, with Henrik tailoring wines to their particular preferences. Whether you’re learning what it takes to become a professional sommelier, or taking your first steps towards wine enlightenment, this Up Norway adventure caters for every level of experience.

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5 Reasons to Travel Up

Genuine Experiences

Norway is a treasure trove brimming with pristine places to visit, unparalleled adventures to experience, and remarkable people to meet. We know where the gems are hidden and we’re eager to share them with you.

December 13th, 2021

Cultural Inspiration - How luxury interior design can reawaken Norway’s rich history

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December 13th, 2021

Cultural Inspiration - How luxury interior design can reawaken Norway’s rich history

Gunvor Catherin Røkholt is one of Norway’s most significant interior designers. An active champion of the UN’s developmental goal no. 11.4 – ‘Strengthen efforts to protect and safeguard the world’s cultural and natural heritage’ – in recent years she has designed interiors for some of the most exclusive hotels in the country, establishments run by visionary hosts whom we at Up Norway are proud to call our partners.


Torunn Tronsvang

Founder