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Obama menu ‘Champagne’ blunder threatens entente cordiale

Franco-American relations have been dealt a blow by the way a Californian Champagne has been listed on the menu for President Obama's second term inaugural lunch later this month.

The right order: Korbel Natural label

In a menu that pairs lobster with Riesling and bison with Merlot, the accompaniment to the apple pie dessert is listed as Korbel Natural, Special Inaugural Cuvée Champagne, California.

This has sent the French ‘popping mad’, according to a report in Wednesday’s Los Angeles Times.

The row broke when the joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies hosting the lunch published the planned menu, immediately provoking an angry response from Sam Heitner, director of the Champagne Bureau‘s US office in Washington.

The issue for the French is the order in which the words appear on the menu. The label of the wine actually reads ‘Korbel Natural Russian River Valley Champagne’.

Had the congressional committee placed the word California before the word Champagne instead of after it, the row might have been averted.

The wine agreement signed in 2006 between the EU and the United States banned new US producers using the word ‘Champagne’ on their labels, but the agreement was not retrospective.

‘Producers [like Korbel] who used the word ‘Champagne’ on their labels before 2006 may continue to do so but they must say New York Champagne or Californian Champagne,’ Heitner said.

‘The production site must be adjacent to the term Champagne. The way the menu is written is not correct, nor legal in the United States.’

It is understood the mistake will be corrected when the official menu is printed.

Written by Giles Fallowfield

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