What makes a good wine bar? Experiences are of course personal, but to me, three things are important: A wide selection by the glass, knowledgeable staff and the possibility to have a bite of food. Latva Bar in Helsinki ticks all three boxes, and on top of that, it has a nice, cozy (an non-pretentious) atmosphere. The focus is on ecological wines and ingredients, as is trendy right now. The Bar is located south of the center in the residential area of Kaartinkaupunki. As Helsinki is compact, it is only a ten minute walk from the main shopping street, so a perfect spot for an after-shopping drink or late evening hangout.
The wine list has four bubblies by the glass and for good prices I might add: two champagnes (11-13€), a Cremant de Loire (8€) and one Cava (7,5€). The only thing I can criticize is that the selection of champagnes by the glass was the same as it was last summer; Janisson Barandon Brut Tradition NV and Serge Mathieu Brut Prestige NV. Both are good and would satisfy my thirst for bubbly, however, I like variety, thus this was a bit of a disappointment. It would though bother me more if I would be a frequent visitor. I went for the Cava: Funambul Equilibri Natural, a Brut Nature and Reserva from Navarra (Spain). It had a nice mineral freshness and was definitely value for money.
Looking at the list of reds and whites there are over ten of both by the glass, from different wine regions (mostly from the “old world” with a mix of some Australia and New Zealand) and all within a reasonable price range of 7 and 11€. This really excites me as you can sit here all evening trying out different wines. Prices by the glass are for 12cl of wine; I am not sure if they would let me try out half glasses instead (will ask next time) as this is something I appreciate very much with serious wine bars.
The bar is not only good for wine. They make wonderful cocktails from mixing beer with ingredients, like Elderflower and berries, and have a wide selection of micro-brewery beers and ciders. You don’t quite find fresh ciders like you do in the Nordic countries (these are not the yeasty English type) so this is definitely worth trying out if you are visiting. For food, they serve small dishes, Sapas (Suomi-Tapas = Finnish tapas) and for a more demanding hunger a burger with beetroot. The small dishes vary daily and are based on what ingredients are in season.
So if in Helsinki and in the mood for wine, head to Latva for a glass. Even the slightly more serious wine geek will not be disappointed!