[image-1]Katie Morton is the Wine Director of Marta, a Roman-inspired pizzeria from Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group located in The Redbury New York. Marta is known for its crackly-thin pizzas and its massive Award-of-Excellence winning wine list with strengths in Champagne and Italy. Morton was a BevCon presenter on the panel Sparklers on the Other Side of the Pond: A Blind Tasting, where some of us got tipsy trying to discern between tasty effervescent wines from France and the UK. Morton sat down with the Charleston City Paper for a quick round of questions after all the (mostly empty) spit buckets were bussed away.

CP: Tell us a little about yourself and why you’re here on this panel.
KM: Sabato Sagaria, the Director of Restaurant Operations for Union Square Hospitality Group, invited me here. I’ve never been to Charleston before, but it’s been on my radar for a long time now. I heard it was a major food and drink city, and that turned out to be very true. Plus BevCon seemed like a great opportunity to meet up and connect with people from all walks of the biz, so I’ve really loved that about coming here.

CP: The next time we’re up in NYC, why should we hit up Marta?
KM: It’s a cool food-and-drink conception. We do all Roman-style pizzas, so they’re really crispy and cracker-like, and we believe that Champagne is the best wine-pairing with pizza. So, we have a really large selection of around 100 Champagnes, everything from rosés to richer and fuller to lighter wines. It’s really all about the idea that Champagne isn’t just something you drink at the beginning of the meal and it doesn’t have to be a luxury item — it’s something you can have as an everyday wine as well.

CP: And you have other sparkling wines besides Champagne?
KM: Yeah, we’ve got Italian sparkling wine as well, Prosecco, Lambrusco, the list goes on.

CP: And after what we’ve tasted and discussed today, will you be adding some UK sparklers to the mix?
KM: Oh yeah, that’s definitely something I’m going to look into as soon as I get back. I’m really excited about those wines.

CP: Why are sparkling wines from the UK so hot right now?
KM: This is really new for me, actually — I’d never tasted so many English sparkling wines side by side until today — but I think millennial wine drinkers are always excited to try new things and the fact that these wines are delicious is only going to help. I think they’ll be really successful, especially with younger drinkers. Plus, there are only a few UK wines in the country right now, and they’re all young. So if these wines are this young and they’re already this good, then I’m really excited to see what happens in the future.

CP: You’re pretty young to be a beverage director for such a megabrand. How does the millennial generation experience wine in ways that older generations doesn’t?
KM: Well we have social media revolving so much around food and drink, people are seeing somms on the Food Network and in movies, and partially with the advent of these UK sparkling wines, the nomenclature surrounding the sparklers is becoming easier for an American millennial to grasp because, well, it’s in English.

CP: Why is your Champagne program so successful?
KM: I think that once people overcome their hesitance and start seeing Champagne as a delicious drink they can have everyday, it’s my job to feature a different Champagne by the glass every week, and to know the stories behind the wines. Millennials are so smart, they are just so smart. They have access to so much information. By allowing them — or any patron — to come by week after week and sip something new each time, it builds trust. They are learning what they like and don’t like because of what you provide, and that builds loyalty.

CP: You’re giving the toast at a wedding. What do you pour?
KM: Great question! So definitely a Magnum. My favorite is Pierre Peters Brut Grand Cru Cuvée Reserve. And we’ll definitely need cheese. All the cheese.