Discover the Fun in a Glass of Champagne

By Andrea Duchon

In our hectic world, it can be tough to remember to stop and smell the roses. Or, if you’re Belinda Aucott, the Champagne.

For years, wine played a consistent role in Belinda’s life, even as she pursued other adventures and careers: Parisian fashion reporter, part-time bookstore clerk, founder of a PR agency, English language guide on the French Stock Exchange.

It wasn’t until she literally had time to stop and smell the roses that the pieces of her universe started to fall into place.

“I was on holiday in a remote part of New Zealand,” she explains. “For the first week, I was just drinking a lot of champagne, and I decided, ‘I’m not going to drink anything else anymore, I’m just going to try to drink less and I’m only going to drink French champagne.”

That lasted for about a week.

The second week in, Belinda decided it wasn’t just enough to drink champagne. Instead, she started sketching the bottles – half for fun and half as reminders of her tasting notes.


“I did about 90 drawings in 6 days. And at the end of the week, I was just looking around saying, ‘Ok, this is something. This means something, and I need to follow it.”

At the gentle persuading of a fellow artist Charles Clapshaw, Champagne Republic ( was born.

Part blog, part online art gallery, the website chronicles Belinda’s personal tasting notes in ways that feel professional, yet approachable. But it’s not only about sharing her opinions with the world. In large part, it’s also a way to remind Belinda to be more mindful – in drinking and in all aspects of her life:

“I thought that through taking notes, watching everything, drawing and writing about what I was drinking, it would really make me slow down and practice mindful drinking,” she says.

It worked.

“These days, I drink better quality wine and enjoy it more. Mindfulness also helps me get more out of other experiences – it works with everything from dancing, making love, breathing and walking.”

She also realized that by immersing herself so deeply in something she truly loves for hours on end, a whole new world of possibility opened up to her. Champagne Republic started catching the eye of others and people started listening to her opinions, inviting her to events, even sending her bottles of Champagne to review.

“Throughout the process, I’ve realized I’m kind of a Champagne ambassador, and a Champagne advocate,” Belinda says. “I want to show people that drinking Champagne doesn’t have to be so serious. It’s fine to simply have fun with Champagne.”


As part of her Champagne campaign, Belinda’s kicked off courses at Work-Shop that she says will give attendees a look at Champagne that’s not stuffy, but light-hearted and fun. For those who have ever participated in an uppity wine tasting, her course will offer a welcome reprieve from the usual pomp and ceremony.

You’ll learn the basics, like what to look for in terms of color, the aroma and how it should feel in your mouth when you drink it.

At the end of the class, Belinda hopes you will have learned to slow down, sip your wine and notice everything: “By focusing your mind on the discovery, you will discover more.”


Interested in getting started with Champagne?

Along with joining Belinda’s class on Tuesday, October 21, here are the four wines Belinda advises every Champagne newbie should try:

  1. Bollinger NV– “This is a creamy classic. Lovely toasty almond and vanilla, very polished and elegant. The Brits love it.”
  2. Elgy Ouriet – “The sommelier’s Champagne, very delicate. An unusual wine that shows great expression of the terroir.”
  3. Dom Perignon Vintage 2004 – “Delicious and intriguing, aromas and flavours in great contrast – it unfolds like riveting story.”
  4. Krug – “You have to try this! Their slogan is ‘No Krug, no thanks.’ I think that is hilarious.”

BOOK TICKETS: champagne-republic/