December 15th, 2021

Uncork your wine knowledge – with Norway’s champion sommelier

December 15th, 2021

Written By

Tailor your own journey to eat and drink your way through Norway. Come on Up!


Tailor your own journey to eat and drink your way through Norway. Come on Up!

As local experts and travel curators, we'd love to tailor your foodie adventure. Just answer five simple questions so we'll know where to start.

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, and perhaps take on some of his incredible wine knowledge. 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.


Then 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 long run, 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 true Nordic cuisine.


So 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?

All in all, 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 wines tailored to your particular preferences. Whether you’re learning about Norwegian eating and drinking essentials in our Up Guide to Norway, or taking your first steps towards wine enlightenment, this Up Norway adventure caters for every level of experience.

*As of June 2023 Henrik Dahl Jahnsen has bid farewell to his role as the Wine Director at Speilsalen, and has moved on to new wine-related ventures.


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Embark on a culinary adventure

Embracing the essence of travel for me is the joy of connecting with locals who passionately share their lifework. These individuals, often artisans and storytellers, are deeply immersed in the arts of farming, harvesting, foraging, cooking, brewing, distilling, or other culinary pursuits.

My insider advice is to embark on a culinary journey through Norway, savoring the opportunity to actively participate in the harvesting of flavors from both land and sea. Beyond the burgeoning Michelin-starred scene, you'll soon unveil the rich tapestry of Norway's culinary landscape, woven together by the genuine tales and skills of its people.

Torunn Tronsvang


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