One of the perks of Rohan Jelkie’s job is to taste the best champagnes and spirits in the world, and well, get paid for it. But, his role as the Brand Ambassador for Moet Hennessy India doesn’t end there. Read on as he reveals what it takes to do his job well.
Thorough knowledge of brands and the impending competition, a people friendly demeanour and mastery on all forms of social media—these are just some of the extended roles of a brand ambassador that Rohan juggles with ease. In conversation, he gives us a lowdown on his job, while widening our horizon of knowledge on Champagnes.
Here’s an excerpt from the interview.
What is the best part about being a brand ambassador for a luxury brands’ company like Moet Hennessy?
Ask my friends what I do and without batting an eyelid they’d say, ‘I get paid to drink and attend the most luxurious parties!’ While that is not entirely true, one can’t really complain when the job requires one to taste the best Champagnes and spirits under the sun. And the opportunity travel is only an added perk. However, the thing I enjoy the most about my work is that it is a people-friendly profile, and I get to meet people from the trade, as well as consumers, many of whom stay in touch with me over social media, IM and the phone. And this is not only for whenever they have a query on our brands, but also to say hello! It feels good when people remember you from a session that conducted in the past.
What are the basic rules of selecting, tasting and buying Champagne?
When buying Champagne from a shop, look for bottles whose label looks fresh and intact. A faded or a worn out / torn label usually indicates that the bottle has been poorly stored. While this may not be the case always, it is better play safe with your bottle of prized bubbly.
Before tasting, the bottle should be optimally chilled to around 7-8°C. Leave the bottle inside a refrigerator for at least 3-4 hours prior to opening it for consumption. Take care not to agitate or shake the bottle, else be prepared for fireworks when you open the bottle.
While tasting, it is always good to appreciate the light vibrant colour of the wine. Most Champagnes do not develop deep colour tones. They are supposed to look pale yellow in colour with a fresh vibrant appeal. Nose the wine to appreciate the aromas without swirling it vigorously. Once you sip the wine, swirl it in your mouth gently to appreciate the fine mousse (the creamy texture formed by the bubbles on the palate) and flavour.
Have you discovered any unique pairing of food with Champagne?
Champagne is a versatile wine when it comes to pairing with food. Not only does it complement classic dishes like caviar, scallops and cheeses, but also pairs well strawberries and cream. Champagne also pairs well with Indian food—as long as the dish is not overtly spicy, and not cooked in rich gravy. Champagne’s complex combination of aromas and flavours help it pair well with grilled white meats, vegetables, pastas, sea food, sushi, soft to semi soft cheeses and fresh fruit tarts.
What are the things to be kept in mind while opening and serving a bottle of Champagne?
Apart from the points already mentioned, while opening the bottle one must try to loosen the wire around the cork as much as possible before gently easing the cork off.
While serving, between drinks, make sure you always store the opened bottle in a refrigerator or a chilling bucket. A champagne stopper is a great device to close the bottle. But, to retain its freshness and fizz, the bottle should ideally be consumed within a few hours of opening it.
How important is glassware?
Very! A good tulip shaped glass with a long stem is the way to go for serving Champagne. Not only does the glass help preserve the bubbles in the drink, but the long stem also ensures you easily hold the glass by the stem instead of its bulb. Additionally, chilled glasses work better for Champagnes. Pop your glasses into the freezer for around five minutes before pouring the wine in.
Is it a good idea to saber your champagne?
Sabering is a dramatic way of opening a bottle of Champagne, best done for celebratory occasions. There are certain rules that need to be followed while sabering, and it is best done by an expert only.
Do you think there is a bubbly for every occasion?
Yes. For example, Moët& Chandon will always be the Champagne of success and glamour. It’s perfect for celebrating a wedding anniversary or your next big promotion at work. Dom Pérignon is the finest expression of a singular vintage. Truly, it’s a Champagne for special occasions. The best way to bring in the New Year could be by sabering a bottle of Dom Pérignon and savouring a glass. It is also suited for personal celebrations like a 10th anniversary, given that the wine itself takes nothing less than seven years to mature. Champagne such as Veuve Clicquot (VC) offers the boldest expression, both in taste and style. VC works perfectly for a poolside brunch or a Christmas dinner. For someone who loves to build a champagne collection, Krug is one of the best choices. The champagne, meant for special occasions, contains wines that are up to 23 years old upon release. It is perfect for a silver jubilee.
(This interview originally appeared on Luxpresso.com on 23/01/2015)