About Wine & Words
Wine & words provides professional, high-quality and multilingual wine writing, training and consultancy – with a sparkle.
Wine & words was founded in 2015 by Kristel Balcaen, MA in Linguistics and Literature, DipWSET (WSET® Level 4 Diploma in Wines), Certified Sommelier from the Flemish Wine Academy and Sommelier-Conseil from the Université du Vin in Suze-la-Rousse, France.
With 25 years of experience in higher education, writing, communication and international cooperation, Kristel has been working with students, clients, organisations and businesses all over the world. She has been a speaker at international conferences and events, and written articles on a wide range of topics. She is the author of ‘Wijnboek voor foodies’, a book on food and wine pairing, published (in Flemish/Dutch) by Pelckmans Publishers.
Kristel is the current Champagne Ambassador for Belgium and won silver in the most recent European Champagne Ambassador finals, which earned her the additional title of Vice-lauréat du concours des Ambassadeurs du Champagne 2018. In March 2018 Kristel was elected as Belgium’s Wine Lady of the Year, and in October she received the honour of being intronised as Dame Chevalier in the Ordre des Coteaux de Champagne. In January 2020 she was inducted as Ambassador into the Archiconfrérie Saint-Vincent de la Champagne, and in November 2022 as Chevalier in the Baronie Gent of the Commanderie des Costes du Rhône.
For her outstanding results in the WSET Level 4 Diploma in Wines, Kristel won both the IWSC scholarship for the highest overall marks in the Europe / Middle East / Africa region (EMEA), and the Peter Hampson Memorial Prize for the highest marks in the Unit D1-Wine Production. And in September 2023 she has embarked on a challenging new wine adventure, starting as a Stage 1 student in the world-renowned Masters of Wine programme.
She has also been a student of the world-renowned wine writer and leading expert in Italian native grapes and wines, Ian D’Agata, at 3iC, the Italian International Indigenous Center for Wine & Food Studies. There she has obtained the certificates of 3iC Italian Wine and Food Specialist for Northern Italy, Central Italy and Piedmont.
Kristel’s passion for wonderful wines and fabulous food continues to lead her in new directions. She teaches the new generation of sommeliers at the Flemish Wine Academy; WSET® Level 3 Award in Wines classes at WineWise; and offers training on food and wine related topics to wine lovers and professionals alike. She is the writer of the ‘Belgium’ section in the international bestseller Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book; a member of the editorial board of Ken Wijn-magazine; a panel and livestream moderator; an active contributor to several online food and wine communities; the ‘wine mistress’ at Commanderij Caudalie and a judge in (inter)national wine competitions and tasting panels.
Wine qualifications and awards
- Accepted to the Masters of Wine programme (IMW, UK)
- International Wine & Spirit Competition (IWSC) trophy – the graduate scholarship for the highest overall marks in the WSET Level 4 Diploma in Wines in the Europe/Middle East/Africa region (IWSC, UK)
- Peter Hampson Memorial prize – the award for the highest marks in the EMEA region for the D1- Wine Production unit in the WSET Level 4 Diploma (Wine & Spirit Education Trust, UK / Winewise, BE)
- Judge at the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles – Sweet and Fortified Wines (Brussels, BE)
- DipWSET / WSET® Level 4 Diploma in Wines – grade: Distinction (Wine & Spirit Education Trust, UK / WineWise, BE)
- Chevalier in the Baronie Gent – Commanderie des Costes du Rhône (Ghent, BE)
- Judge at the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles (Cosenza, IT)
- Judge at the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles (Luxembourg, LU)
- Judge at the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles – Rosé Selection (Brussels, BE)
- Judge at the Concours Mondial du Sauvignon (Brussels, BE)
- Judge at the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles (Brno, CZ)
- 3iC Central Italy Wine and Food Specialist (Cugnoli, Abruzzo, IT)
- 3iC Northern Italy Wine and Food Specialist (Corno di Rosazzo, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, IT)
- Ambassador of the Archiconfrérie Saint-Vincent de la Champagne (Epernay, FR)
- 3iC Piedmont Wine and Food Specialist (Barolo, IT)
- Dame Chevalier in the Ordre des Coteaux de Champagne (Reims, FR)
- Wine Lady of the Year, Belgium.
- Vice-lauréat/Runner-Up of the Concours des Ambassadeurs du Champagne 2018 (Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne (CIVC), Epernay, FR)
- Champagne Ambassador, Belgium 2018 (Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne (CIVC), Epernay, FR)
- WSET® Level 3 Award in Wines & Spirits (Wine & Spirit Education Trust, UK / WineWise, BE)
- Sommelier-Conseil (Université du Vin, Suze-la-Rousse, FR)
- Sommelier (Flemish Wine Academy, Ghent, BE)
- Extract ‘Sangiovese’ from ‘Wijnboek voor foodies’ on ciaotutti.nl, November 2023 (in Dutch)
- Book review ‘”Wijnboek voor foodies” van de Belgische Kristel Balcaen’ on Vinissima.nl, October 2023 (in Dutch)
- Book review ‘Wijnboek voor Foodies: dikke aanrader’ on Anne-Wies.NL, October 2023 (in Dutch)
- Book review ‘Wijnboek voor Foodies, recensie’ on Nederlands Wijngilde, October 2023 (in Dutch)
- Article ‘Wijnschrijver Kristel Balcaen legt ‘Wijnboek voor foodies’ in de rekken.’ on Winetasting.be, October 2023 (in Dutch)
- Interview ‘WSET-primus Kristel Balcaen gaat voor een Master of Wine.’ on Vino.be, June 2023 (in Dutch)
- Article ‘Wordt Kristel Balcaen onze volgende Master of Wine?’ in the spring 2023 edition of Ken Wijn-Magazine, May 2023 (in Dutch)
- Mentions on global wine sites about winning the EMEA graduate scholarship at the WSET Level 4 Diploma graduation, April 2023. (e.g. Wine Business, Wine Industry Advisor, WSET Global, Drinkstrade, EIN Presswire)
- Article on winetasting.be about winning two awards at the WSET Level 4 Diploma graduation, April 2023 (in Dutch)
- Article ‘Kristel Balcaen wint internationale wijnprijzen’ on Horecaplatform.be, April 2023 (in Dutch)
- Article ‘Vier Belgische wijnstudenten behalen WSET Diploma in Wines’ on winetasting.be, October 2022 (in Dutch)
- Podcast about Champagne on Wijncast, January 2020 (in Dutch)
- Cheese and the wines of AOC Rasteau in DM Vino!, October 2019 (in Dutch)
- Champagne Tips for the Holidays in Nina Magazine, December 2018 (in Dutch)
- Article “Chocolatier en Wijnspecialiste slaan de Handen in Elkaar” on MadeinOostvlaanderen.be, June 2018 (in Dutch)
- Interview in FoodPrint, by Katia Belloy, March 2018. (in Dutch or in French)
- Article on the Comité Champagne website about the European Champagne Ambassador’s Awards, November 2017 (in English or in French)
- Article on Pascal Jassogne’s blog about the European Champagne Ambassador’s Awards, November 2017 (in French)
- YouTube video presenting the candidates for the European Champagne Ambassador’s Awards
- Interview in Knack Weekend, by Agnes Goyvaerts, October 2017 (in Dutch)