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Obama Inauguration 'Champagne' Makes French Whine

Jan 10, 2013

The French have been told to put a cork in it and stop whining about the "champagne" that will be served at President Obama’s inauguration party later this month.

The scuffle began when it was announced that Obama's swearing in would be celebrated with flutes of "Korbel Natural Russian River Valley Champagne." This really ticked off the Champagne Bureau, Washington's champagne lobby, which responded by saying that under U.S. law, sparkling wine made in California can only be called “California Champagne” -- not the other way round, according to the Los Angeles Times.

“We would urge the inaugural committee to follow that law and not state the sparkling wine being served is Champagne, as they did in today's release,” director of the Champagne Bureau Sam Heitner told The Hill, urging them to use the term “California Champagne" instead. “Champagne only comes from Champagne, France,” he added.

Well, excusez-moi.

Yet, it seems Heitner does have a point. Most countries only recognize sparkling wine as champagne when it comes from the particular region in France. The U.S. only allows winemakers to use the word “Champagne” if the sparkling wine's origins are clearly stated and it was made before 2006.

The French are known to be particularly persnickety about their wines. They've also taken issue with the U.S. using the term Chateau on wine labels, the Washington Post reports.

In response, the Americans seem markedly less concerned by the error. Matt House, spokesman for the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, who urged the lobby to “have a glass of their own product and relax.

Meanwhile, California Rep. Jared Huffman says the French are just jealous.

“Only the finest champagne should be served at President Obama's inauguration celebrations, and in my opinion, the Inaugural Committee made the right call," he told the New York Daily News.

Presidential Inauguration History

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