Inauguration Pours American 'Champagne' (and France Isn't Happy)

The bubbly lobby is angry that the celebrations will include mislabeled 'champagne'

Now that details of President Obama's inauguration eats and drinks are coming out, no one is more pissed than the French about Obama's drink of choice: a U.S.-grown sparkling wine. 

The LA Times reports on the French-American relations miff; the Champagne Bureau (aka the "bubbly lobby") is upset that the drink for Obama's inauguration banquet is being labeled as a champagne. The sparkling wine, Korbel Natural from California, was labeled as "Korbel Natural, Special Inaugural Cuvée Champagne" and notes that it's from California.

Of course, the Champagne Bureau argues, only a champagne from the Champagne region of France can truly be labeled as a champagne. Most countries, including Frace, forbid sparkling wines from a region other than Champagne to be labeled as "champagne"; however, U.S. law is more flexible. The Drinks Business and the LA Times explain that some U.S. vintners can label a wine as a champagne if it also includes the origin of the grapes. 

The Champagne Bureau's response is not to "pooh pooh" Californian sparkling wine, but to not mislead attendees into thinking they're drinking the real deal. In response, the White House has changed its menus to specifically designate the "California Champagne." 

Korbel isn't the only American born-and-bred wine to be featured during Obama's inauguration. The Drinks Business also shares that two New York State wines are on the menu: the Tierce 2010 dry riesling from the Finger Lakes' vineyards Anthony Road Winery, Fox Run Vineyards, and Red Newt Cellars; as well as thhe Bedell Cellars 2009 Merlot from Long Island, N.Y.


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