Margareth Henriquez, president and CEO of Krug, started as a young woman in a male-dominated wine and spirits industry, but proved herself no shrinking violet. Henriquez quickly rose through the ranks, helming top positions at Seagram’s in Venezuela and Moët Hennessy in Argentina before taking charge of the House of Krug in 2008.
Here, we get to know the woman who wants to change the way we drink Champagne.
What does a regular day in the life of Maggie Henriquez look like?
I am based in Paris now, and I wake up at 5:50 a.m., and I go to bed at 2:00 a.m. Normally, I do this because I want the time. I take my bike to the train at 6:40 a.m. on my bicycle, and arrive at our office in Reims. I might visit the team at the working house or have meetings for projects. I typically bring a salad for lunch and I go home at 7:00 p.m. I might go to the gym or cycle. When I ride on my bike I feel like I am on vacation. I love this small city where I can bike and see everything. Then I go home after 9:00 p.m. and have dinner and spend time with my husband, and work or read until 2:00 a.m. Then I go to sleep!
What is your proudest achievement at the House of Krug thus far?
What I’m most proud of is the big transformation of the House. It was so dusty—literally—and fading out and had no energy, but now it’s completely transformed into a brand full of light and life and future. In actuality, nothing has changed—the Champagnes has always been this way long before I arrived, a case of how good communication can build a brand. It was already a wonderful product that just had to be communicated well. What I have been most proud of is to be able to release and unleash all the beauty of this House that was always there.
What was your first taste of Champagne?
Yes, perfectly! Growing up we had a large house with lots of people working in it. I remember at Christmas that all of us would gather together, and my father would prepare a special word and thank everyone. It was always a very emotional moment for me as it was a moment of gratitude; I’m a very grateful person and believe this is the key for a successful life. At the end, my father would open a bottle of Moët & Chandon. I remember being 11 that year and I convinced my father to let me try it. I remember saying: “Papi, you know kids in Europe drink wine, so I can have a sip to celebrate Christmas!” He let me have a sip and, since then, I have always loved Champagne. I would never imagine that one day that my career would be in a House like Krug.
Do you have any tips for appreciating Champagne?
You cannot have good Champagne without good wine. Winemaking is such a careful, long process. So, drink Champagne out of a good white wine glass. Imagine the glass is a concert hall and after eight years of aging to let the wine fully express its flavors, it’s as if the musicians are all ready to play their symphony. But when you pour Champagne into a Champagne flute, you block out half the orchestra. You might hear only a third of it! The glass is the instrument that allows you to discover the beauty of the Champagne; if you put Champagne in a good white wine glass, you will discover all of its beauty and what goes into it.
When is a good time for drinking Champagne?
Once we take Champagne out of the flute, we also bring it out from its association as just a celebratory drink. Champagne can give you everything without tannins bothering you, and when you talk about food—like Japanese or Chinese cuisine that is full of complexity and flavor—Champagne is the perfect match. And when you have a good Champagne like Krug, the fine bubbles don’t get in the way at all. Not many people know that you can have a full dining experience with Champagne pairings. We want to change the impression that Champagne is only a celebratory drink, and let people know that you can always have a bottle at home, and that it’s perfectly acceptable to have it with lunch or dinner.