Where there is beauty, controversy follows. Marilyn Monroe, Princess Diana, DeLoreans…. So the tug-of-war surrounding champagne between the French and, well, everyone else, was no surprise. For generations, coattail riders were branding their sparkling wines as “champagne” despite the fact that it wasn’t produced in the designated growing region of France.


So, the French set out years ago to stop the impostors. And they won — a couple of times. Wikipedia informs that, “In the European Union and many other countries, the name Champagne is legally protected by the Treaty of Madrid (1891) designating only the sparkling wine produced in the eponymous region and adhering to the standards defined for it…. The right was reaffirmed in the Treaty of Versailles after World War I.”


This legal protection has been accepted by numerous other countries. Most recently Canada, Australia, and Chile signed agreements that limit the use of the term “champagne” to only those products produced in the Champagne region. The U.S. acknowledges the exclusive nature of the “champagne” term and bans the use from all new U.S. produced wines. Only those that had approval to use the term before 2006 may continue to use it and only when it is accompanied by the wine’s actual origin (e.g. California).

This might clear up confusion for those of you who think you’ve been drinking contraband.


Lest you think the Europeans are joking around…. In January, 2008, Belgian customs agents destroyed 270 cases of California sparkling wine destined for Nigeria because it was labeled “André Champagne.”


Additionally, LeChampagne.com, the official web site for growers and vintners of French Champagne seemed to have canceled the English language version of the site.


In typical American fashion, some crafty bâtard has responded with this:


American Champagne:

1 oz. Southern Comfort
3 oz. Mountain Dew