Champagne is known as the celebration drink, but the bubbly liquid is much more than an occasional tipple for Kyla Kirkpatrick – it is her way of life.
Ms Kirkpatrick, who is an authority on champagne, is coming to the Coast later this month to host champagne master classes as the Champagne Dame.
A passion for all things champagne began to take hold when the self-proclaimed book worm’s love of historical literature led her to read a book about Napoleon Bonaparte and his connection to Jean-Rémy Moët.
“They had this friendship and it became almost superstitious that Napoleon wouldn’t go into battle unless he had taken his soldiers into Champagne and given them some Dutch courage,” Ms Kirkpatrick says. “This wine is a conduit to the past, one of those amazing wines that not only connected itself to so many families in Champagne, but also to the nobility. It was the wine of choice for kings and queens.
“A lot of love, and care and history has been poured into every bottle and when I ran out of books and still had questions, I decided to write a letter to the gentleman who had written my favourite book on champagne and he quickly responded that I should come to Paris and he’d teach me everything he knew.”
Just eight months later, Ms Kirkpatrick was recruited by the Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton empire and sent to Sydney as an ambassador for Krug, Dom Pérignon, Moët, Clicquot and Ruinart. She now travels independently and presents her own classes.
She says there are two big misconceptions about champagne. “The first is this connection with fancy parties, the French Riviera, celebrities and status. I think that champagne is actually the contrary. It’s about family and time. There is no finery in the Champagne region, no pomp and ceremony. Just people who are dedicated to their work and their vineyards,” she says.
“The second and the biggest misconception in Australia is that champagne is overpriced. It’s not. If anything, it’s too cheap. Champagne vineyards are home to the most expensive land in the world, the most expensive grapes in the world. Champagne has the most technical wine-making process, and then ages for longer than just about any wine on the planet.”
Ms Kirkpatrick’s master class is the third special VIP event leading up to the inaugural 2018 Côte du Soleil Sunshine Coast French Festival. The two-day festival, to be hosted at Kings Beach, will showcase the fabulous culture, cuisine and lifestyles of the French.
Festival organiser Lynette Croft says the weekend will be packed with entertainment such as music, burlesque and dancing.
The Côte Du Soleil Sunshine Coast French Festival will be on July 28 from 9am to 8pm and July 29 from 10am to 8pm. There will also be a ‘Picnic in Provence’ event on April 15 in anticipation of the festival. Visit sunshinecoastfrenchfestival.com.au.
The Champagne Dame is at the BreakFree Grand Pacific Resort in Caloundra on January 20 from 2pm to 5pm. Tickets are $129 and are available from stickytickets.com.au.
The Champagne Dame’s top 5 service tips
1. Never use a champagne flute. It’s no good for champagne. A skinny flute is too narrow and there is nowhere for the aroma to gather. Essentially, it suppresses the champagne. Instead, use a small white wine glass or a tulip-shaped glass.
2. Never put champagne in the freezer. This can break the aromas and is way too harsh on the champagne. If you need to chill a bottle quickly, use a combination of water and salt to make a special bath for the bottle.
3. When your pour champagne, always have the label facing upwards out of respect to the wine maker.
4. When you open the champagne bottle, the cage must come off at the same time as the cork. You should aim for a gentle pop and not a loud one.
5. Experiment with brands you don’t know. Moët is the number one best-selling champagne in the world, but that doesn’t mean it is the best. There are smaller houses that don’t have big marketing budgets, but take a lot of pride in the quality of their champagnes.