AUSSIES love their champagne, but one Sunshine Coast woman loves it a little bit more than others.
Nicole Smith, a practice manager at Sunshine Coast eye clinic, has made it to the finals of Australia's most prestigious champagne award the 2016 Vin de Champagne.
Ms Smith's love affair with the bubbly drink may have started with the bottle of Dom Perignon her husband proposed to her with.
But it really gained momentum more than 15 years ago when she stumbled into a dinner being hosted by famous champagne consultant Bernadette O'Shea in Noosa.
"She was matching the whole meal with different champagnes,” Ms Smith said.
"It sounded amazing. If you love champagne then you have to do one of her classes.
"She explained everything and it just made sense. I always liked wine, I knew I like champagne, I just didn't really understand it.
"That was the start of my journey with her.”
Now Ms Smith is on the cusp of winning the award Ms O'Shea won in 1984 and was the first Australian non-professional woman to do this.
Ms O'Shea has even been awarded a knighthood for her contribution to the champagne industry.
Ms Smith has been on trips with Ms O'Shea and has become "absolutely fascinated by the beverage”.
"Part of the reason we educate other people is to make them realise there is something unique about champagne.
"It is a luxury product and there is a reason for that. There are good sparkling wines, but they are not a champagne.”
Ms Smith will be flown to Sydney on September 26 to discover if she has won the coveted win award.
If she wins, she will be flown to France for three weeks to have private tastings of champagne and further her knowledge.
This year celebrates the 42nd biennial Vin de Champagne Award, one of Australia's most coveted wine awards that honours Australia's long-standing relationship with France's Champagne region.
Recent figures placed Australia as the sixth largest import market in the world with Australians importing more than 8.1 million bottles in 2015.
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