The bubbly stuff has certainly developed a reputation. From New Year’s toasts to teams celebrating championships, the classic Frenchis a standard bearer. The question is whether that bottle you have is really .
The title Champagne refers to the Champagneof where the bubbly is produced. Under French law, this is the only that may produce a bubbly using the name. Most people know this and assume that any bottle with the Champagne name on it is, in fact, from the relevant region of . Alas, this is not always true.
First off, there are many other areas of the world that make their own form of the bubbly stuff. In, it is known as Cava while the Germans call it Sekt. Most of these brands can be identified by the bottle as they proudly designate themselves by their locations. Problems begin to arise, however, when we talk about labeling in the United States.
French law is clear. If the bubbly is from a region or country other than Champagne,, it cannot use Champagne it the title. The United States, however, does not follow this law. Under federal law, any sparkling wine can be labeled as champagne regardless of whether it is from the Champagne region of France or France at all.
So, how can you tell where the bottle is really from? Well, there are a couple of ways. A bottle using the champagne verbiage that is not from the region must indicate what area [California, New York, etc.] it is actually from. Oddly, this is usually indicated in very small print! Second, the term “champagne” cannot be capitalized.
The goal of most sparkling wine producers is not to deceive the buyer. There is simply a conflict between what people expect in a quality sparkling wine – a champagne – and what they expect in a lower quality sparkling wine. It is a matter of labeling often overcoming the quality issue. As a result, many sparkling wine producers not from France will push the envelope as far as they can.
Ultimately, the issue is really whether you get a quality sparkling wine or not regardless of the region it comes from. Still, take the time to read all “champagne” labels closely. You don’t want to buy something you think is from France only to discover it is from another area.