The Tasting Panel magazine

February 2014

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46 / the tasting panel / february 2014 EDUCATORS L ong a talented interloper in the male- dominated drinks, restaurant and hospitality ields, Belinda Chang, newly appointed as Moët Hennessy USA's (MH USA) Champagne Educator, is crashing through yet another glass ceiling in her meteoric, honor- laden career. From beginning as an apprentice cook at Houston's Café Annie to serving as Wine Director for Charlie Trotter in Chicago, then overseeing operations at Danny Meyer's Michelin-starred The Modern in New York and later appointed Global Beverage Consultant for the Starwood luxury hotel group, Chang, a James Beard award honoree for outstanding wine service in 2011, is now joining the storied ranks of marketers of liquid effervescence. Like her predecessors, whose lashy public- relations events included popping corks at the Oscars and pouring jeroboams into pyramids of 1,000 coupe glasses for The Guinness Book of World Records, Belinda is determined "to inlame and infect" MH USA's distributor partners as well as their on- and off-premise customers about "all things Champagne." A born educator, Chang relishes her new role to introduce and, where necessary, re-acquaint the trade with the unique story of Champagne, its sub-regions and premier and grand cru appellations, its viticultural and winemaking traditions and, of course, inform one and all about MH USA's Moët & Chandon, Veuve Clicquot, Krug, Dom Pérignon and Ruinart brands, from non-vintage releases to unrivaled prestige cuvées. "The Biz of Fizz" From the time Champagne was irst com- mercialized and exported from the mid-18th century on, men—mostly men, it must be admitted—went on the road to introduce, educate and sell this bubbly, bibulous nectar, not just across France, but the world over. In Widow Clicquot's day, it was Louis Bohne, an enterprising salesman, who in the early 19th century ventured all the way to St. Petersburg in Czarist Russia to sell boatloads of Clicquot's renowned Yellow Label to the Romanov court. In the New World, it was Edmond Ruinart, scion of Champagne's oldest house, who departed for America in 1831 on a tri-mast sailing ship full of immigrants; cases of his precious Champagne, which served as bal- last, were destined to ill coupes and lutes in dancehalls across the new nation. As Chang puts it: "What's better than the story of Widow Clicquot, or the two monks, Dom Ruinart and Dom Pérignon, or talking about the unique qualities of Krug!" Chang—who has already hit a dozen markets in her new educational role extolling Champagne—is forging her own take on these romantic, hard-working characters, who became known as "Champagne Charlies." They were such a ixture in 19th-century society that Victorian-era song-and-dance man George Leybourne composed the hit song "Champagne Charlie" in 1862. It featured the following verse and evocative (and true!) chorus: Some bofins like their Burgundy, Hock, Claret or Moselle, But only Moët Vintage satisies my palate well. Champagne Charlie is my name, Champagne Charlie is my name. There is nothing like that izz, izz, izz Yes, it really is the biz, biz, biz! After almost two decades of work in the hospitality world, Belinda relishes the chal- lenges and potential of her new trade respon- sibilities: "I never imagined not being at a restaurant. It is a great dance being at the table with a customer, but being an educator has always appealed to me, as well as the chance to reach, via my association with MH USA's great Champagnes, a much larger audience." Her ambition: "We want to be the global leader in Champagne education, and that includes the United States." Given Chang's record of accomplishments, it would be a mistake to discount her ability to once and for all transform, and elevate, the perhaps outdated image of a Champagne Charlie, now and long into the future. Belinda Chang. BELINDA CHANG IS MOËT HENNESSY'S NEW CHAMPAGNE EDUCATOR Pop Star by David Lincoln Ross PHOTO: ELLEN SILVERMAN

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