Why Denmark Is Such a Dynamic Market for Fine Wine

This month, Areni Global released its research report on Denmark, which revealed that Denmark has a lively fine wine market. Continue reading for more information about the fine wine market in Denmark 2024.

Every parent who has ever stepped on a stray plastic brick can thank the Danish company LEGO for their pain. The toy company, founded in 1932, is one of the many globally significant companies that are headquartered in Denmark.

The economy is one of the most vibrant and least corrupt in the world, making it an easy place to do business. Its population is educated, outward looking, and relatively wealthy — and a significant number of them are wine drinkers.

A snapshot of the wine market

Danes drink about 36 L of wine per person of legal age per year — one of the highest consumption levels in Europe.

Up to 80% of all wine is sold in supermarkets, where the average price is under €5. More than 20% of the wines sold come from Italian regions like Puglia and Veneto.

But there is also a robust fine wine market, underpinned by a strong network of importers, retailers and auction houses, and entwined with an outstanding restaurant scene.

“Producers of upscale German wines can sell them in Denmark for a good price point, because consumers there are willing to pay more than in Germany,” one German wine producer told Areni.

Danes know a lot about wine

Market commentators told Areni over and over that Danish customers are extremely knowledgeable.

“Sometimes I’m shocked by what these people know and the references they have. People who are amateurs and who probably have only been in wine for a few years who drink some really nerdy stuff or at least seek it out,” says sommelier Arvid Rosengren, who is now also a wine importer and retailer..

Wine expert and sommelier Tim Vollerslev agrees. “First of all, I found it amazing how many young people in Denmark are interested in wine, and know at least a little,” he says. “I’m not saying they’re professors in wine, but if you go to a gas station to fill up your car, you can ask a young person behind the desk, and say, ‘Oh, by the way, I’m going to buy some wine. Do you know any good wine shops in this area?’ And they would most likely be able to point out one or two places.”

The profile of the fine wine consumer is also changing. In the past, buyers were professionals who worked in industry and finance, who were typically over 45.

“Younger people are entering the market and that’s quite interesting. At the beginning when I started, it was old men who entered the door,” said one fine wine retailer. “Now it can be young people and you don’t necessarily look at them and identify them as a person who is capable of buying for €10,000  and going out the door again with no problems.”

What hasn’t changed, however, is the gender divide: the majority of fine wine drinkers and collectors are male.

What are they drinking?

Trends in the global fine wine market have converged on a single region: Burgundy. This is as true in Denmark as it is in Singapore.

“Burgundy is a big part of our DNA and our history. And as you know, the market is crazy for Burgundy right now. For both of those reasons, it’s the biggest part of our cellar,” says Jonathan Gouveia, sommelier at Copenhagen’s 1-Michelin star restaurant Formel B. “We’re seeing an increase in people buying lower-end wines from Burgundy because they’ve read about it in the newspapers, or they’ve heard about it from someone else. So they’re excited to try Burgundy, but of course they’re going to approach it at the cheaper end of the spectrum.”

Jess Kildetoft, Wine Director at Copenhagen Concept, and the owner of Kildetoft Wine, agrees.

“Burgundy is king, without a doubt. I mean, if you look at Denmark traditionally, it’s probably a bit more French, but also Italian wines and Spanish,” he says.

But there’s plenty of opportunity for other producers as well. “You’re starting to see a development as well towards all these new, small, up-and-coming stars from all over the world. Small production, low intervention,” he says.

Rosengren says it’s striking how geeky people in Denmark can be about their wine choices.  “People have very well defined and sometimes really strange references that are super niche, but I get what they are saying. People come in and say ‘I really like oxidative Jura style wine’. I’m like, okay, that’s cool. I can work with that. They’re open to suggestions around that sort of theme.”

From the days of the restaurant Noma, Copenhagen has always been an important market for natural wine. Alongside that, Danes have an intense interest in sustainability — consumers want to know that their wines were produced with high quality grapes farmed with minimal intervention.

And, of course, there is still a lively market for both the Super Tuscans and Bordeaux, particularly as the latter now offer very good value for money.

The Novo Nordisk effect

As in other European nations, Danes are getting older; almost 19% of the population of 5.7 million people are older than 65. By 2040, almost 40% of the population will be over 65.

Normally, incomes contract as people age out of the workforce, meaning there’s less money available to spend on fine wine. But despite the ageing population, Denmark has a bright economic future ahead of it.

In 2017, a team of researchers at the Danish pharmaceutical giant Novo Nordisk launched an injectable diabetes medication called Ozempic. Word soon got around that people who were using it were losing weight and celebrities and others began clamouring for it.

Today, Novo Nordisk is the most valuable company in Europe.

Significantly, Danish pension schemes hold large levels of Novo Nordisk stock, pumping up the value of Danish retirement savings. This means the average Dane is likely to remain well-off in the years ahead — leaving them with disposable income to spend on wine.

Cover Picture: Nick Karvounis

This is only a fraction of the information contained in our Denmark report. To unlock the full report, become a full member today.

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