From Chanel to Champagne! Fashion and bubbles undoubtedly go hand in hand, so Charlotte Holl’s transition from working for luxury brands in New York City to becoming sales director at new brand Faire la Fête makes perfect sense. Speaking of perfect pairings, did you know that champers is delicious when teamed with pepperoni pizza and Southern fried chicken?! It’s news to us, but consider us convinced! Here, Holl tells us some fun new trends in the industry, just in time for the holidays—glasses at the ready, folks!
Why did you first fall in love with fashion?
It was before I can even remember! My French grandmother was a seamstress, and she made so many of my childhood clothes. I was very close with her, and she taught me how to sew from the time I was a toddler. Ever since, I dreamed of working in fashion, and even visited FIT when I was just 11-years-old.
Tell us about your early career working in fashion in NYC?
Shortly after moving to NYC to start classes at FIT, I got a job at Bloomingdales on 59th Street for a French company called Comptoir de Cotonniers. My only prior experience had been working in a grocery store through high school, but they hired me that same day for a sales position. My first language is French, and they like that I could actually pronounce the brand. It was my first experience in sales, and I loved this brand so much. They don’t have stores in the U.S. anymore, but it definitely launched me into the NYC fashion world. After that, I worked for Theory and Chanel, also in Bloomingdales, before finally becoming the store manager for Tomas Maier on Madison Avenue.
What inspired the change to the wine industry?
It was really just a leap of faith. My family had gotten involved in the wine business and at the time, I had been in NYC for nine years and I felt like I needed a change. Then, when I tasted Faire la Fête for the first time, I remember being surprised by how good it was. My father had wanted, for many years, to have me come into the family business, but it wasn’t until Faire la Fête came along that I felt a real connection to this product and knew I would be happy doing this.
In what ways are the two industries similar?
You know that feeling when something is so good, and you just want everyone to know about it? For example, Tomas Maier was known for his incredible cashmere sweaters—and I just couldn’t let anyone leave the store without at least trying one on. I genuinely loved the product and wanted everyone to experience it. It’s the same with Faire la Fête. I’m so excited about the product, I love telling the story, and I am 100% in love with it. It’s all connecting with people at the end of the day. Fashion is for everyone, and so is wine.
Tell us about your current role and what it entails.
We’re a very lean team—so we all wear a lot of hats. My primary role is sales, and managing our distribution in the U.S. I also work closely with my partners and our founder to get the word out about Faire la Fête through marketing and social media. I source and generate content for all of our platforms.
Any new trends in the Champagne world this year/holiday season that we should know about?
The biggest trend in champagne is this shift away from needing a special occasion or waiting for a big important moment to enjoy it. Bubbles are fun, refreshing, and can be enjoyed anytime with practically any food! We’re seeing so many people picking up some bubbles on their way home instead of a bottle of chardonnay or a six pack of beer—especially when something like Faire la Fête only costs $20 and has the same incredible quality you expect from $60 champagnes.
Tell us why the new trend is not using champagne flutes, but drinking from White Burgundy glasses?
So flutes, while very pretty and elegant looking, aren’t very good wine glasses in general. The first part of enjoying wine is being able to really smell the wonderful aromas—and a narrow opening at the top of a glass, like on a champagne flute, means you can’t get your nose in there! Having a nice wide brim is perfect for taking in all the beautiful aromas that champagnes have–mostly due to the long aging in bottle which creates those flavors.
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Why should you never use a squeaky clean glass?
A couple of reasons. The first is that any residue of soap will kill your bubbles. The second is that tiny particles of dust, that you can’t see but usually settle on your glass in the cupboard, are good for bubbles. They essentially act as a conductor for the bubbles, instead of dissipating into the air or through the glass. In other words: a little bit of dust keeps your bubbles there longer.
Apart from being affordable, what else is different and notable about Faire La Fête?
Faire la Fête is made in the south of France, in a region called Limoux. Limoux was the very first to produce champagne in 1531. So Faire la Fête is made in the birthplace of bubbles! Second, Faire la Fête spends the same amount of time aging in the bottle as Champagnes from the actual region of Champagne up north—but for a third of the price. We work with eight generation grape growing families to make Faire la Fête: the quality and taste is just unbelievable.
We hear you recommend pairing bubbles with fried food…why is this?
Fried food and bubbles are a match made in heaven! The reason is because as a general rule of thumb, salty and fatty foods compliment acidity and effervescence beautifully. They enhance each other’s best features! And by fried food, I mean classic fried chicken. It is just so good.
What other foods are failsafe pairing for Champagne?
Most foods pair well with bubbles—because champagne has more flavor characteristics than still wines: acidity, lower alcohol levels, bright fruit character, fresh baked brioche, and yeast, and of course, bubbles! Some foods that are notoriously difficult to pair wine with, like salads with vinaigrette dressing (because the vinegar is so powerful), pair beautifully with sparkling wine. Spicy foods are great with Faire la Fête too, because the bubbles and lower alcohol level help to tone down spice and enhance the underlying flavors in the dish. There really isn’t much it doesn’t pair with.
How are you planning to entertain this holiday season?
For the first time this year, I will be hosting my family! Usually, my mom cooks a delicious French meal, but I will be doing all the work this year. I’m thinking of making duck confit and a classic Buche de Noel. We’ll see if I impress the tough critics at the table! Also, I’ll be wrapping wide red velvet ribbons around the tops of the green label Faire la Fête for my table centerpiece–it’s such a festive way to display the wine and spruce up the setting without having to do much work.
Lastly, what’s your personal favorite way to enjoy champagne?
With pepperoni pizza from the local spot around the corner! I can’t get enough of the combo. I look forward to it on weeknights with just me, my champagne, and my favorite show.