‘Champagne’ Set for Obama Dinner Has French Wine Lobby Miffed

Wednesday, 09 Jan 2013 08:52 PM

By Todd Beamon

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The Obama White House will serve a California “champagne” with its dessert course for the inauguration — and the French wine lobby is stomping mad over it.

Sam Heitner, the director of the Champagne Bureau, a Washington lobby, told the Hill on Wednesday that the description of “Korbel Natural, Special Inaugural Cuvée Champagne, California,” to be served with the inaugural dinner, violates U.S. law.

“U.S. law clearly states that the full name of the wine label must include where it comes from,” Heitner told the Hill. “Under the law, the label for this wine would state ‘California Champagne.’

Editor's Note: Should Kerry and Hagel Be Confirmed?

“While we do not support this practice, it is U.S. law — and we would urge the inaugural committee to follow that law and not state the sparkling wine being served is Champagne. Champagne only comes from Champagne, France.”

The lobbying group has voiced its concerns in a letter to New York Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer, chairman of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies. The description of the sparkling wine was listed in a news release from the committee, the Hill reports.

The committee, however, told the Hill that the wine itself is labeled in accordance with U.S. law and is correctly identified on the menu.

The name “Champagne” to describe sparkling wines that are not from the Champagne region of France is banned by most countries, the Hill reports.

American law is more flexible, prohibiting the term for newer sparkling wines but preserving it for those produced before 2006 — and only if their origin is spelled out in their name, the Hill reports.

Heitner said he was seeking to ensure that American consumers were not misled, not to denigrate U.S. products, the Hill reports.

Editor's Note: Should Kerry and Hagel Be Confirmed?

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