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A bubbly with reach

The House of Krug offers a free app that gives the story of a champagne's origins through a number on the back of every Krug bottle

Mr Olivier Krug, sixth-generation scion of Krug Champagne, has a firm idea of how his premium champagne should be served.

When the waiter places two champagne flutes in front of us, he immediately asks for white wine glasses instead.

"I cannot drink my Krug in a flute," says the director of the House of Krug, which has a history of more than 170 years in Reims, the heart of France's Champagne region.

It is quickly apparent that it is not the jet lag speaking for Mr Krug, 50, who has only just gotten off a flight from France, but a way of life.

"Do you like music?" he asks. "Do you listen to music with earplugs? Drinking a great champagne in a flute is like listening to music with earplugs - you miss everything and it should be forbidden," he says.

He should know. His great-great- great-grandfather, Johann-Joseph Krug, founded the champagne house in 1843. It was acquired by French luxury goods conglomerate Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy in 1999.

If consumers have questions, answers are available through the app and they don't have to go through an intimidating sommelier.

MR OLIVIER KRUG on the champagne house's free app

When Mr Krug finally takes a sip of the 163rd edition of Grande Cuvee out of a wine glass, his mood visibly lightens and he is all smiles.

He believes that, despite its centuries-long heritage, "Krug is probably the most digital of all the champagne houses".

"We are very transparent and very reactive," he says before talking excitedly about his Instagram account (@krugoli), which boasts more than 11,000 followers.

The frequent traveller posts his exploits around the world and, after his three-day Singapore trip, his feed is filled with pictures of labels of the rare Krug he has imbibed.

"Despite my age, I created the hashtag #noflute on Twitter," he jokes.

His palpable presence on social media is not the only way the champagne house is adapting to modern times. It also has a free app that, after you input the six-digit identification number on the back of every Krug bottle, tells you the story of the bottle's origins. This includes how many wines went into the blend, the oldest and youngest wines as well as when the bottle received its cork.

There are also tasting notes, suggestions on how to store and serve it and even a suggested playlist of songs, inspired by research that shows music can affect the drinking experience.

An example is Grammy-winning jazz artist Gregory Porter's lively song Liquid Spirit, to match the ebullience of the Krug Grande Cuvee. "I think it's fun and a good way to reach a new audience," Mr Krug says.

The app is a response to the priority given to the provenance of products by consumers these days. Having the information available via an app also makes the experience less formal.

"If consumers have questions, answers are available through the app and they don't have to go through an intimidating sommelier," he says.

He admits that 25 years ago, "Krug had a posture that was a bit arrogant, stiff and only for connoisseurs". Now, he wants it to be available to everyone who "wants to have a very special experience with champagne and we will help them".

Being a premium champagne, Krug's output makes up only 0.2 per cent of all champagne that comes from the region. And the house is in no rush to garner a bigger market share.

"We are not in a battle to get all the young people to drink Krug in nightclubs," Mr Krug says.

"However, I want these young people to know that among the great champagnes, there is one called Krug."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 26, 2017, with the headline 'A bubbly with reach'. Print Edition | Subscribe