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Bryan Maletis, owner of Fat Cork, talks Champagane and Holiday Pairings

Bryan Maletis has a passion for great Champagne. And with that passion he created a Champagne business with his wife, Abigail. He brings a unique spin to the world of Champagne in many ways. His business is truly the “farm-to-table” version of Champagne. He does his own selecting, buying, importing, and retailing. He firmly believes Champagne is not just for special occasions, but can be enjoyed at any time to make the everyday more memorable.

Bryan, Lucas, and Abigail Maletis Owners of Fat Cork Bryan, Lucas, and Abigail Maletis
Owners of Fat Cork

You are obviously a busy man! What does a typical day look like for you?

Every day is different! For a few weeks every year, I spend my days in Champagne, France tasting around 80 cuvées a day and meeting with producers. When I’m in Seattle, I taste with restaurants, order Champagne from our growers in France, write tasting notes, and select cuvées for our club members. No matter what my day includes or how busy I get, it always ends with a bubbly toast with my wife. Many days we toast with Champagne, some days it’s just sparkling water, but everyday is celebrated.

When did you first discover your passion for Champagne?

My passion for Champagne truly sparked on my first visit to the Champagne region of France. I was already a huge fan, but after meeting growers and seeing their homes, it became clear Champagne would be my future. I’m convinced that seeing the labor, history, and passion behind every bottle would convert anyone into a Champagne lover.

Bridal shower by FatCork and Katie Parra

Champagne is clearly not native to this region. What inspired you to bring Champagne to Seattle? Why specifically Grower Champagne?

Champagne is a very delicate beverage—it can easily be damaged by heat or incorrect storage. My goal is to protect a product often mishandled as a result of alcohol’s traditional 3-tier distribution system. As the importer, distributor, and retailer I can control the product from the caves of our producers in Champagne all the way to the glass of the customers – thereby guaranteeing the very best quality!  Importing grower Champagne also allows me to develop relationships with the individual producers. They have become not only my business partners and suppliers but also my friends. Each story is unique just like each bottle is unique – I love sharing those stories with our consumers! You can’t get that kind of personality from big Champagne houses.

Do you have a favorite Champagne?

My favorite changes almost daily! During the summer months, I love something clean and tart, like Alexandre Lenique Secret de Famille Brut Nature. When I’m eating a rich meal in the winter months, I prefer aged Champagne, like Gimonnet-Oger Blanc de Blancs Millésime 1996.

We often associate champagne with special occasions, so it’s refreshing to see that Fat Cork’s philosophy is to celebrate everyday! Can you tell us a bit more about that?

Celebrate Everyday was my personal motto long before I started Fat Cork.  When I was a wine rep in New York, I would tell my clients to keep a bottle of bubbly in the fridge to create a special occasion anytime. To this day, the best part of my job is hearing how the bottles I imported have contributed to celebrations across the country, whether it’s a 20th wedding anniversary, a summer brunch, or a Super Bowl win!

Champagne drinkers vary in experience, some are seasoned drinkers while others are newbies. What Champagne and taste profile would you recommend to someone new to Champagne (and why) ? 

For someone new to Champagne, I recommend a classic blend that’s not too sweet or too acidic. A brut Champagne (between 0 and 15 grams of sugar/liter) is ideal for a beginner. From our collection, my favorite bottle to give to a beginner is the Pascal Redon Brut Tradition. It’s produced in a very tradition style and is sure to delight novices and aficionados alike.

Winter is quickly approaching. What are your champagne pairing suggestions for a perfect holiday party? 

I love Grilled salmon and Rosé Champagne. Choose a rosé that has enough body to stand up against the strong flavors of Salmon. From our collection, I recommend Grongnet Rosé.

Recomended Champagnes

What are your holiday pairings for our apple, orange and pear crisps?

The apple crisps are wonderful with a triple cream cheese and a side of roasted almonds. The crisp apple balances the richness of the cream and nuts. I would serve this alongside classic, rich Champagne like our Hervy Quenardel Brut Prestige. This cuvee is aged in oak, giving it a complexity and richness that is wonderful with the apple and cheese.

I like the pear crisps with a slice of prosciutto. This simple pairing tastes great alongside a tannic rosé. From our collection, I’d pair it with Alexandre Lenique Cuvée Excellence Rosé.

Finally, the orange crisps are great for dessert. We serve them drizzled with dark chocolate and sprinkled with sea salt. Because the flavor is so rich, we prefer this dessert on its own.

For more information on Bryan Maletis, you can visit Fat Cork & follow him on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.


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