An announcement was made that “Korbel Natural Russian River Valley Champagne” would be served in celebration of President Obama’s inauguration later this month. Representatives of the region of Champagne, France took offense at the misuse of the word chosen to describe the bubbling beverage. Members of the Champagne Bureau, a group dedicated to educating US consumers about the sparkling wines of the Champagne region, released a statement admonishing the administration for misuse of the word. Champagne is a term that exclusively refers to sparkling wine that originates in Champagne, France. All other bubbly should be called sparkling wine.
The French are very particular about their use of the term. Most countries tend to agree, and only apply the label to wines fitting the French standards. However, in the United States, law authorizes winemakers to call sparking wine “Champagne” as long as it is a vintage prior to 2006, and the label obviously states where the wine originates from on the bottle. For example, a sparkling wine from California could be legally called California Champagne. While the French are up in arms, Americans do not seem to mind the misuse of the word. The spokesman for the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, Matt House, opined that the Champagne Bureau should try consuming some of their own product and loosen up.