About Me | Press
Maria Hunt's Story
I was pretty much destined to write about food and wine and become a Bubbly Girl. My family was filled with great cooks and passionate eaters in the city of Chicago, where the culinary landscape ranged from the finest French restaurants and Italian trattorie to excellent deep-dish pizza and barbecue ribs. And then there were my favorite childhood books: Blueberries for Sal and Anatole, about a beret-wearing mouse who was a top secret taster of Roquefort and St. André at a Parisian cheese factory.
Completely by accident, I tasted sparkling wine for the first time around the age of 7. I was standing nearby as one of my cousins struggled to open a bottle of Cold Duck. By the time she got the plastic cork out of the bottle, it had been so shaken up that I was showered with the sweet red wine! And every time I hear the Christmas song Carol of the Bells, I still think about the old Andre sparkling wine commercial with the clinking champagne coupes.
Fortunately, my taste in wine improved; while earning my degree in from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, I worked for some of the best caterers and restaurants in Chicago. I learned about First Amendment and inverted pyramids by day and fine French service and pithiviers at night.
I drank my share of brunch Mimosas, Kir Royales and special bottles of Dom Perignon or Veuve Clicquot over the next several years. But my bubbly epiphany occurred when I was a new food writer exploring some of New York City's finest restaurants - on a budget. I asked the waiter at Rocco DiSpirito's Union Pacific to suggest a wine that would work with the French and Asian flavors of his cuisine. I was amazed to see that a gently sparkling glass of Riesling sekt kept up with rouget with raisins and capers to langoustine in a curried carrot foam.
But travelling in Europe was where I really discovered that sparkling wines were meant for every day. I found that Venetians welcomed spring with the prosecco and peach nectar Bellini cocktail, Parisians sipped Champagne after work, the Basque in the South of France enjoyed an exotic sparkling wine called txakoli with freshly caught seafood.
And at a glorious luncheon at Trianon in Épernay with my sister, we sipped a different Moët et Chandon champagne with everything from foie gras terrine to chocolate mousse.
Back at home in the United States, I found that most people (except Bubbly Girls!) thought that champagne and sparkling wine were only for weddings and New Year's Eve. And they had no idea that champagne is often a sommelier's go-to wine when it comes to food pairings.
I started learning as much as I could about sparkling wines from around the world.
I studied wine with Karen MacNeil and Holly Peterson Mondavi at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in the Napa Valley. I got up early to pick pinot noir grapes and learn the intricacies of blending during the Schramsberg Sparkling Wine Symposium. I earned the title of Certified Wine Professional, Level One in 2006 from the CIA. The next year I passed my first level exam with the American Court of Master Sommeliers and am currently studying for the next level.
Since I wanted to share everything I was learning and experiencing, my adventures in bubbly are chronicled on my Bubbly Girl Blog and on my site The Bubbly Girl, which is a destination and resource for any one who loves sparkling wine and champagne and wants to know more about them. You'll find cocktail and food recipes designed for entertaining, education on trends and tips on great wines to try. I'll also share what I'm up to with fun projects like designing custom cocktails and my private wine and food classes where people taste how sparkling wines make great matches with every day food.
And that's pretty much how I became the Bubbly Girl; won't you join me?