We have already published a guide to Copenhagen, but Peder Lehmann Larsen takes us outside the capital too, to visit Danish wine producers. See this guide to all the entries in our travel writing competition that have been published so far. Just two more to go...
Is Denmark top of mind, when you consider travelling for wine and food? No? Well, maybe it ought to be.
Long has the home of Hans Christian Andersen been famous for Noma and the New Nordic cuisine, but Denmark has a lot more to offer, and any wine lover or foodie should be thrilled upon returning from a visit to the fairytale country!
You find top restaurants with and without Michelin approval throughout the country, wine bars with off-the-charts lists, and you will also discover that Denmark is indeed an emerging wine-producing country herself.
How to squeeze all of that into just 1,500 words? I really have had to restrict myself. Much space is devoted to Copenhagen. So much is going on here! But include a trip to the countryside, as I provide you with some of the very best wine producers to visit, and with great dining opportunities nearby.
Denmark is incredibly beautiful during spring and summer. The light and the water surrounding us sets the most beautiful scene, and across the country you will find top restaurants in amazingly beautiful locations.
You don't want to miss out on Copenhagen during summer. The classic stuff like the atmosphere in Nyhavn, touring the canals, visits to the historic monuments: The little Mermaid, the old Stock Exchange, Kronborg and the beautiful art museum, Louisiana. Everything is even better with the sky painted in blue and the sun shining.
When in Denmark, you have to taste our smørrebrød, open sandwiches. Usually served for lunch, the best versions are both works of art to look at and a real treat for your palate.The best place in Copenhagen to go for classic smørrebrød is Restaurant Palægade, Palægade 8, is all about the classic smørrebrød and you just might find it better than anywhere in Denmark. Remember, that traditionally smørrebrød comes with beer and schnapps.
Having spent a good day walking along the waterfront, visiting a museum or just shopping, it is time for dinner. And dining with style is easy in Denmark – especially in Copenhagen, where the concentration of Michelin stars is huge. Geranium, Noma, Kadeau and AOC all have at least two Michelin stars and are of course all are worthy of your attention. But I would rather recommend to you a few, very good restaurants, left out by the inspectors:
Alchemist, Refshalevej 173C, is currently the one restaurant in Denmark you don't want to miss out on. Chef Rasmus Munk relaunched this 2.0 version of his restaurant this summer in what used to be a welding hall of one of the world biggest shipyards, B&W. He continues to exhibit his mindblowing holistic cuisine, combining exquisite dining with elements from art, theatre, design and technology. Expect Alchemist to sky rocket to the top of the charts!
These days Refshaleøen is a hot spot for cosy restaurants, cool bars, music festivals and top-tier restaurants like Alchemist. Noma and Amass are also located in this quiet oasis only 15 minutes by bike from the middle of Copenhagen.
Mielcke & Hurtigkarl, Frederiksberg Runddel 1, is beautifully located in The Royal Danish Horticultural Gardens in Frederiksberg. Arguably one of the world’s best restaurants not to have been rewarded by Michelin, Jakob Mielcke's restaurant is worthy of two stars! Not least due to sommelier extraordinaire, José Santos, a genius in blending both classic and new wines to create memorable experiences for any wine lover.
Enomania, Vesterbrogade 187, is a brilliant Italian restaurant. Only in Italy will you fine better. The wine list alone makes Enomania a must-visit for lovers of Burgundy and Piemonte. On top of that, Damiano Alberti is one of the most welcoming hosts you will ever come across.
Sometimes, all you need is a good glass of wine, so what about wine bars? Well, Copenhagen has a wine bar for just about any kind of wine lover.
Bar'Vin, Skindergade 3, in the very centre of Copenhagen, near the busy shopping streets, is excellent. They offer classic, rustic dishes inspired by French, Spanish and Italian cuisines and have a great wine list including a nice Loire and Jura section. This is also the place to go for great Greek wines from the likes of Hatzidakis, Sclavos and Economou.
R Vinbar, Gammel Mønt 14, is also located downtown and it is without a doubt the wine bar in Copenhagen with the most classic wine list. Great Chablis line-up from Dauvissat and Raveneau, for example, and incredible depth in Burgundy. Just across the street, you should only be happy to enjoy dinner at Restaurationen.
Terroiristen, Jægersborggade 52, is a great place to go for eastern European and Italian wines with a natural winemaking profile. Wines from producers like Frank Cornelissen and Oskar Maurer are to be found there. Jægersborggade is quite a trendy part of Copenhagen these days, and numerous wine bars and restaurants are located in this area.
Vinbaren Vesterbro, Torv Svendsgade 1, is a cosy, laid-back place very close to Copenhagen Central Station, and they offer a very nice, fairly classic wine selection with a predominantly European scope. Quite frequently you may enjoy a live jazz concert while enjoying your glass – or enjoy the long summer nights at their outdoor seating.
And now off to the countryside to visit some wine producers. Yet another reason for wine lovers to visit Denmark!
Some might argue, that Denmark is too far north to ripen grapes, but since officially being named a wine-producing country by the EU in 2000, Denmark has come a long way in proving sceptics wrong.
Most importantly it has been established that the future for Danish wine production is to produce white and – since acidity is the one thing you are always certain to find in Danish wines – sparkling wines.
Also, with growing experience, it has been proved that (in terms of whites) the future lies with varieties such as Solaris, Johanniter and Souvignier Gris. Solaris with its Sauvignon Blanc-like expression is doing very well in the Danish climate.
With the approval of PDO Dons in the south-eastern part of Jutland (exclusively for sparkling) – the northernmost appellation in the EU – Denmark now has yet another attraction to offer to wine lovers.
But beautiful wines are also made outside of Dons, with the north-western part of Zealand having proved very suitable indeed.
Producers to visit include:
Skærsøgaard, Nørresøvej 12, 6051 Almind, is the only winery in PDO Dons – so far. Winemaker Sven Moesgaard is rightly famous for producing great sparkling wines and recently two of his sparklings were awarded 88 and 90 points by The Wine Advocate. Dons sparkling wines are characterised by a particularly brilliant acidity rendering the wines elegant and crisp. Skærsøgaard (pictured top right) is also producing sought-after high quality whites and rosés. Skærsøgaard is some 2.5 hours away from Copenhagen by car, but in nearby Fredericia you would be well-advised to visit the Michelin-starred restaurant Ti Trin Ned or drive approximately one hour to the west to enjoy chef Paul Cunningham’s two-star restaurant Henne Kirkeby Kro.
Dyrehøj Vingaard, Røsnæsvej 254, 4400 Kalundborg, lies to the west of Kalundborg on the Røsnæs peninsula and enjoys one of the sunniest and driest climates to be found in Denmark. The biggest winery in Denmark, Dyrehøj produces wine from more than 30,000 vines and New Zealand-born winemaker Zachary Brierly produces excellent wines from Solaris including a sweet Solaris Prestige from botrytised grapes in warmer years such as 2016. Solaris Reserve is aged partially in new and used oak but primarily in stainless steel. At Dyrehøj visitors are offered guided tours with tastings, and you may enjoy a tutorial conducted by the winemaker. A highly recommended tutorial! Dyrehøj is also producing fortified wines as well as liqueurs and brandies crafted from various fruits.
Vejrhøj, Vejrhøjvej 9, 4540 Fårevejle. Idyllically situated in the hilly Odsherred, this tiny winery is where Nina and Niels Fink have established themselves as one of the top producers of wines in Denmark in a very short time. Their Solaris 'Styver' and 'Sterling' – the latter barrel-fermented with eight months in oak – are of particular note. Combine a visit to Vejrhøj and Dyrehøj with dining at Michelin-starred Dragsholm Slot (Dragsholm Castle) restaurant just a few kilometres from Vejrhøj.