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Best Sommelier of Finland: Kirsi Seppanen

Kirsi is 27 years young and she has been working in the restaurant business since 2010, when she graduated from the Gradia restaurant school in Jyväskylä as a waitress. In 2011, she moved to Tampere, where she worked in many places as a waitress, before becoming restaurant manager at Deli 1909 & Wine Bar. She studied at the Finnish Sommelier school in Turku in December 2017. In September of this year, after competitions, Kirsi will start working at Ravinteli Bertha as a sommelière.

At a fairly young age, she already has participated in a lot of contests: from 2010 to 2018, she took part in 10 of them, from the National Contests in Finland to the Nordic Sommelier Championships. Her best achievement so far is her first place at the 2018 Best Sommelier of Finland contest.

Here’s what Kirsi told us about her dreams, and about sommelier education in Finland.

Q: You won the contest in Finland in 2018. Did you expect it and how do you feel about it?

Kirsi: This is my first title as the Best Sommelier of Finland, and I feel great! It is always fun to compete with colleagues, but it feels great to win as well! I am happy that my studying and training is bearing fruit!

Q: How do you think the title of Best Sommelier of Finland will change your life?

Kirsi: I think that I will get new possibilities to meet more professionals, make more contacts, and maybe have a good chance to get job offers. I also think that I can promote my city, Tampere, as a city of professionals, and show that we have a number of great sommeliers.

Q: How is the sommelier profession in Finland? What can be improved?

Kirsi: In Finland we have great sommeliers! I think that because we are not a wine producing country, it is more obvious to learn about wines from all around the world. And our sommeliers are very adventurous when it comes to combining food and wine! I think that we should still improve the education, and learning together, have more seminars or different kinds of education options. Now we have WSET and Sommelier School in Turku. I also think that more restaurants should have trained sommeliers to take care of beverages and customers.

Q: You have great knowledge about food and wine. What do you think you can do to promote your national beverages and gastronomy?

Kirsi: In Finland we have quite strict laws about advertising alcohol, but adding Finnish products in menus is a very good way to introduce them to customers. And of course, using local products in restaurants is getting more and more important, as customers are getting more and more interested about Finnish products. Personally, I try to let people know about our great beverages and gastronomy in every day work, as much as I can.

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