The Champagne Bureau, a trade organization representing “the grape growers and houses of Champagne, France,” just sent us a nonsensical press release warning consumers to be on the lookout for imposter champagne. WATCH OUT! You’re pouring sparkling wine into your mouth, you jerk! The thing is, the only real reason “champagne” is unique is because wine houses in that region of France managed to get laws passed to prevent anyone else from using the word on their own sparkling wines. They’re all sparkling wines; how they’re made is what determines quality.
I’m sure there are sommeliers both real and imagined among our readers who wish I would fall over in a tub of grapes like that poor YouTube lady, as punishment for my ignorance. But my point is, if you want a quality sparkling wine/champagne, don’t dismiss “sparkling wine” wholesale and limit yourself only to champagne. You’ll be turning yourself into a brand whore and falling under the Champagne Bureau’s spell. It’s also okay if you want to call it champagne no matter where it’s from.
Here are two video clips of a
wino wine expert providing an overview of sparkling wines and champagnes, and which houses make the best ones.
This article says the real thing to look for are the words “Traditional Method” on the label:
When choosing a bottle from any region other than Champagne, be sure to look for the words ‘Traditional Method’ on the label. Among other techniques of making sparkling wine are the Transfer, Tank and Asti methods, none of which involve the care, time and precision of conventional process.
As a general rule of thumb, trade groups probably shouldn’t send us self-serving press releases disguised as “consumer alerts.”