To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Decanter World Wine Awards, we're profiling a number of this year's judges, who are some of the world's most renowned wine experts. Our 'Meet the Judges' interview series offers a rare insight into the world of wine and judging from the key industry experts choosing this year's best wines.
Finnish Master of Wine Tuomas Meriluoto MW talks to Decanter about his life working with wine, which has rather unusually included a collaboration with a world-famous metal band.
Tell us a little about yourself – where are you based and where do you work?
I’m living in Espoo, in the Helsinki area in southern Finland. I work for Winestate Group, which I founded with few of my colleagues almost seven years ago – we are a wine importer.
Tell us a bit about your expertise and how you got into wine?
I got into wine through a job as a salesman for an alcohol distribution company. I realised that there were very few people who knew about wine in Finland and thought this could be my opportunity. I have a pretty professional approach to wine; I’m not a wine geek by any means. I think it’s actually good as I’m very open minded and looking at things mostly from a consumer or marketing point of view.
What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned as Managing Director of Winestate Group?
Succeeding as an entrepreneur is hard work but it pays off.
Who has been your biggest inspiration during your wine career?
Quite recently I had the opportunity to work with a world-famous Finnish symphonic metal band called Nightwish. We made wine together (called Imaginaerum) from Ribera del Duero. It’s been a fascinating project (and still is). They are very popular within their genre and working with a wine related to a famous band is quite different from what I’m used to doing with wine.
What are your most memorable wine moments from the last ten years?
Too many to think of any particular. I love to travel and I love the nice people around wine. In the last few years I’ve travelled less because I have small children.
Which kinds of wines do you think should be given more attention in 2013?
I’m pleased to see some modern things coming out of Spain. In general, I think environmental issues are important and I personally make lot of choices in my personal life based on those. I believe it will grow in importance in relation to wine year-on-year.
Which wines are you drinking at home at the moment?
It’s mid-winter, so I’m currently drinking a lot of red wine: Italian, Rhone, Spain, Chile.
What’s your desert island wine?
I suppose it would be quite hot there, so it would be white. Nice fresh Sauvignon Blanc!
What single piece of advice do you have for people just starting out in wine?
Study broadly; don’t get fanatic over one thing (country, grape); don’t drink labels; find your own stuff and like what tastes good to you, not what the public likes.
When judging, what are you looking for in great wine?
Balance, understandable wines, harmony.
Finally, what are you looking forward to most about judging at the Decanter World Wine Awards?
To meet all the colleagues I only know by name or over the internet!
Written by Decanter.com