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 currently writing a book on food and wine pairing, which will be published by Pelckmans Publishers in October 2023.
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.
She is also 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 so far obtained the certificates of 3iC Italian Wine and Food Specialist for Northern Italy, Central Italy and Piedmont.
Kristel’s passion for (read: obsession with) wonderful wines and fabulous food continues to lead her in new directions. She currently teaches the new generation of sommeliers at the Flemish Wine Academy 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
- Chevalier in the Baronie Gent – Commanderie des Costes du Rhône (Ghent, BE)
- DipWSET / WSET® Level 4 Diploma in Wines – grade: Distinction (Wine & Spirit Education Trust, UK / WineWise, 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)
- 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)