Early morning or late afternoon, one thing is sure: a glass of wine at the airport is one of the best ways to start a holiday. Watching planes take off with a glass of bubbly in the hand is damn relaxing. I don’t mind having some bubbly after a hard working week either. However, it is seldom that one finds great wines at the airport. By the glass I mean. I am sure the situation is not hopeless, however, usually people (me) are in such a hurry that they do not have the time to really browse around. So I have made it my mission to check out the airport ‘by the glass’-selection whenever I have the time to spare. Last weekend, I had plenty of slack, so I started this journey from the airport that used to be my main hub, Helsinki-Vantaa.
Walking around last weekend, I was in for a surprise. I had no idea that the airport had undergone such a big face-lift during the past year. I have mostly been flying with SAS, so I have always been cooped up in the far end corner of Terminal 1 (where Johan & Nyström is), completely unaware of the great things that have been happening in Terminal 2. The place does not only look good, but best of all, I found several new places that offer decent wines by the glass. Here are a few suggestions for your journey via Helsinki-Vantaa (Schengen side).
Wine & View (next to gate 27) is legendary. It used to be this small wine-stall in the middle of the terminal. Now it has been rebuilt into a proper wine bar. The interior is a bit charmless, however, there is a goo selection of different wines by the glass. I counted at least eight different bubblies in the pool of ice on the counter: four champagnes and four sparkling wines. Additionally there are about five to six reds and whites, and also some port-wines by the glass. I must say, I was not blown away by the selection as it was mainly big-house bubblies: Möet, Veuve Cliquot, Freixenet etc. However, there is a Lanson Extra Age ad a Dom Perignon 2006 if you are prepared to put some money into it. Not great value for money, but a decent selection nevertheless. Reds and whites were more reasonably priced, and I could already see some wines from France and Austria I could have happily tried out. What is quite fun is that they have a list of “cellar rarities” by the glass. You can for example buy a 4cl taster of Mouton Rothschild (-85) or Côte-Rôtie La Turque (-98) if you are curious to try them. Its not cheap, but hey, it is not so common to be able to taste them by the glass. Wine & View would definitely be my top choice when wining at Helsinki Airport.
Pier Zero (next to gate 30) is a new restaurant and bar complex in the big hall in Terminal 2. I was a bit sloppy when investigating this bar. I could see the Roederer Brut bottles lined up for display, but I couldn’t really make out what was served by the glass. I should have just walked up and asked, but I was stupid enough to assume that there is a menu online. Of course there wasn’t. Anyway, the two story bar looks very nice and serves both large dishes as well as bar snacks. The bar is right next to the glass wall opening up towards the runway, so I can imagine it is nice sitting there and looking at the planes take off. Next time I am in Helsinki, I will go and check out the wine list.
Arctic Bar (next to gate 30) is also one of the new additions to Helsinki-Vantaa. This is more of a cocktail spot than an option for wine. Not a problem, I can enjoy a good cocktail as well as a glass of wine while waiting for my flight. The cocktail menu changes seasonally and features both classics and specials. There are also some sandwiches and other snacks to keep your tummy nice and full before the flight (the food on flights these days is so poor that it is better to top up at the airport). The other fun thing about this bar is that they have an outside terrace. It is slightly disappointing (really nothing special) but they get a plus for the attempt to do something different. I have not tried the cocktails here, but I definitely will next time I am in the mood for something else than wine.
There you go! All set to enjoy a good journey from Helsinki-Vantaa airport. Bon Voyage!