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Millennials – Things They Actually Say: Ilkka Sirén & Kara Jones

May 24, 2011 The Press 2 Comments


So you know what I think and say (too much of both), but what are actual young wine consumers thinking and saying? I thought, ‘hey Wayne, why don’t you go to the source? You know other young people in wine, why don’t you ask them what they are influenced by?” Then I thought, “you know Self, you are right, I will do that, and I will gather what they say and immortalize it for all eternity (or until I stop paying my bill) on ALP for all to enjoy!

So, in their own words, I present real conversations with real wine consumers.

Ilkka Sirén hails from the other side of the World and is hilarious in general. Ilkka also knows his wine. We met on Twitter and I have no idea why or how, but he seemed to enjoy my off-putting humor and I enjoy his hair cuts, which are far superior to mine. Ilkka is unique in that he is actually going out there into the world of wine and making things happen while having a great time in the process. Plus, he once got mugged and punched in the eye!

Name: Ilkka Sirén

Location: Helsinki, Finland

Age: 24

What he does: Author of


ALP: How did you get into wine?

IS: “I got into wine when I lived in Brazil when I was 17. There I ended up going to this huge harvest festival and thought it was super cool. Then I returned back to Finland and started reading about wine. Few years later here I am, completely hooked.”

I stole this from his site.

ALP: What are the attitudes of older wine consumers towards young drinkers in Helsinki or other parts of Europe you travel to?

IS: “When I started to get in to the scene here in Helsinki nobody would answer my emails. The atmosphere was quite ignorant. But with time when I got to know these people and they saw that I was really into wine the attitude changed. Nowadays nobody really cares that I’m young. But of course when I travel around I hear a lot of BS about my age.”

ALP: What factors play a roll in your picking-up a new wine to try?

IS: “In a word: Drinkability. I’m acidity addicted and that’s what I look for both in red and white. I like to drink wines that are alive and not, what I like to call, bodybag wines. Other things I look for: concept, great people behind the wine and organic/sustainable although I’m not too religious about it.”

ALP: How would you classify the average 20-something wine drinker you know?

IS: “In Finland the average 20-something wine drinker might be a bit clueless but very curious and enthusiastic. They are very eager to learn and as “Millennials” they know the information is just a few keywords away.”

ALP: Do you pay attention to wine scores much and if so who’s do you value?

IS: “I don’t really follow wine scores. Sometimes I might browse through Wine Spectator and Wine Advocate just to get an idea what they like but it really doesn’t affect me. I do follow wine conversation online, especially on Twitter. Great way to know what wines or producers people are talking about.”

You can and should follow Illka’s project here or @ilkka_siren

– – –

Name: Kara Jones

Location: Santa Barbara, CA

Age: 23

What she does: Kunnin Wines Tasting Room


I came across Kara the old-fashioned way, through complex social media connections, shady associations with wine outcasts, and by hanging out at her work. While Kara’s first love is music, and she does work promoting shows in and around Santa Barbara, her position at Kunin places her at the front lines of Millennials and wine.

Let’s respectfully listen to what she has to say. (an awed hush falls over the internet audience)

ALP: What factors play a roll in your picking-up a new wine to try?

KJ: “Since I have a passion for music like some have for wine, I always like to pull a parallel between the two. Like wine, there are so many different styles to choose from and the market is almost so saturated that it has to be something truly special to make you stop and give it attention for more than 5 seconds.”

“With music and with wine it comes down to the taste and there is no accounting for it! What I look for in a new wine is:

1. The presentation

2. The story behind it, the connection with the winery/ winemaker/ the sales person in the tasting room.

3. Most importantly it comes down to the taste and aromas. I want something that’s going to make my mouth water, and a wine that not only pairs well with a meal but can also stand alone.”

ALP: You deal with hundreds of 20 and 30-somethings every week, what are some of the attitudes you see towards wine?

KJ: “The 20 – 30 something(s) that have become weekend wine warriors are broken down into three groups.”

“The smallest group consists of knowledgeable wine lovers that travel far and wide to seek the next new wine for their cellar. The other two groups are split down the middle with one being wine curious and the other just looking for an excuse to drink in the middle of the day and catch a buzz.”

“That’s just how it is and there is nothing wrong with any of them. The sloppy third party can be annoying at the end of the day, but that’s the flip side of selling alcohol. All patrons of the wine world keeps me on my toes and I love them all because ultimately it’s good business to have all your markets covered.”

ALP: Do you pay attention to wine scores much and if so who’s do you value?

KJ: “If a wine score is listed on a tasting menu I definitely do notice them, but I won’t necessarily hold a wine or a winery to an arbitrary number. I am however, proud of Kunin’s wine scores with the Wine Advocate. It feels good when your product is confirmed and documented with high ratings.”

“I find that our ‘older’ patrons pay more attention to wine scores than our younger customers.”

“Again, creativity counts with youngsters. What seems to draw more attention than Wine Advocate scores is how creative the wineries name is, the environment of the tasting room, and if the label is eye catching or clever. Sure it can be seen as a shallow appreciation, but you’ve got to start somewhere.”

Follow what Kara does here:

Tomorrow, what a twenty-something grape grower from Carneros has to say about this and more. Stay tuned!

Currently there are "2 comments" on this Article:

  1. […] is the third installment of our mini-series talking to fellow young wine consumers, see also here and here. Today, we have a West Coast and East Coast […]

  2. […] our conversations with young wine consumers with Elliot. If you missed the others, check out Parts I, II, and […]

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