Vine Talk: Bubble war - Is it Champagne or sparkling wine?

Tue Jun 8, 2010 8:26pm EDT
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(Edward Deitch is an award-winning wine columnist based in the United States. He created and wrote a weekly column for eight years on and in 2010 launched a wine blog, He also serves on tasting panels for Wine & Spirits Magazine. The opinions expressed are his own.)

By Edward Deitch

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Wine labeling remains a highly confusing affair.

The challenges range from the place-specific labels on most French, Italian and Spanish wines (such as Montrachet, Chianti and Rioja) that require a good deal of knowledge to understand what's actually in the bottle, to the continuing use of "Champagne" as a generic word for sparkling wines.

The last time I checked, Duck Walk Vineyards had not joined Pol Roger, Moet or Bollinger as a genuine Champagne producer.

No, Duck Walk makes a sparkling wine in New York, on the east end of Long Island, and when I recently came across a sign on the road advertising the release of its first "Champagne," it made me curious about the state of the sparkling wine war that has been going on for decades over the use of the Champagne name.

"The misuse of place names to sell wine is as old as the American wine industry," Carol Robertson noted in an article on the subject in Business Law Today, a news magazine published by the American Bar Association.

"Borrowing the name of a well-regarded wine was a shorthand way for new winemakers to impart some of the cachet of a better-known beverage to a new American product."

Korbel, she points out, has been using "Champagne" to describe its California sparkling wine since 1882   Continued...

<p>A woman fills glasses with sparkling wine at the Vinitaly wine expo in Verona April 8, 2010. REUTERS/Paolo Bona</p>