French Unhappy with Russian Champagne

French winemakers want Russia to ban the use of the words champagne and cognac

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov is leaving for France. Kasyanov is going there to settle various commercial and economic disputes both with this European state and with the whole European Union.

The Russian government is concerned about the intention of the European Union to introduce increased import tariffs on the Russian wheat. Furthermore, the French demand that Russian alcohol producers stop using the words “cognac” and “champagne” on the domestic market. They claim that these are purely French geographic brands. However, they do not ask the same from Californian champagne producers, for example.

Russian Minister for Agriculture Aleksey Gordeyev is leaving for Paris today to prepare the prime minister’s visit. Gordeyev told journalists that “cognac” and “champagne” are not going to leave Russia ever. According to Aleksey Gordeyev, Russia might threaten Europe in the market of food products

The Russian agriculture minister also said that the French claims against Russian cognac and sparkling wine (which is still available in Russia and in the republics of the Soviet Union as “champagne”) are not reasonable claims to make. First of all, Russia has not been exporting either cognac or champagne for years already. Therefore, the interests of French winemakers are not infringed upon on the world market.

Second, Russian alcoholic beverages called “champagne” are of a completely different taste. Russian “champagne” is meant for the average customer. French champagne is produced for rich customers who have lots of spare money to spend. Consequently, the two country’s products never intersect on the Russian market. The Russian minister for agriculture is certain that the word “champagne” should be preserved on the home market.

Indeed, the people of Russia and other republics of the former Soviet Union are used to greeting the New Year and celebrating weddings and other family holidays with a bottle (or a box) of the Soviet Champagne. Should these people be deprived of their usual holiday customs just because French are not happy with the choice of words? Definitely not.

However, the situation with so-called Russian cognac is a lot different. The cognac industry of Russia is something that cannot be found anywhere else. The USSR actually never produced the strong alcohol drink that is called cognac in Europe. The French winemakers use the new harvest of grapes for manufacturing cognac spirit. Then they mix the spirit of various groups.

There is also another technology, when the cognac spirit is made of dried grapes - raisins. This technology creates the beverage called armagnac. This is the mass-produced drink in the republics of Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Moldavia, and Dagestan. That is why using the word “cognac” for the Russian production is nothing but a linguistic misunderstanding.

In addition, the current Russian production of the cognac-armagnac has a very considerable advantage in comparison with Russia’s traditional beverage, vodka. Russian cognac can be drunk without any snack, so it is good to warm one up during cold weather. Vodka should always be accompanied either with a non-alcoholic drink or a snack. Therefore, having a flask of the “Russian cognac” is very essential for the people of the north of Russia.

In the words of Russian Minister for Agriculture Aleksey Gordeyev, the Russian delegation will also discuss issues pertaining to the deliveries of pedigree cattle to Russia. Russian and French officials will also talk about conditions to attract investments. Furthermore, the head of the Russian Agriculture Ministry informed that Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov will talk about the issue of increased import tariffs on the Russian wheat. “We think that this measure is discriminating. If the European Union is going to approve it, Russia will take adequate measures in response; for example, we might limit the deliveries of European meat and milk products,” Aleksey Gordeyev said.

Kira Poznakhirko PRAVDA.Ru

Translated by Dmitry Sudakov

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