Champagne producers in France have always been super protective of others appropriating the Champagne name, to the point it’s now protected by the European Union. The Champagne appellation involves a lot of hoops to jump through—the origin of the grapes, of course, but also a rigorous set of production standards. Few can earn the Champagne moniker; the rest can just be measly sparkling wine.
The question, though, is at what point does a name become so ingrained in the everyday vernacular that it turns from a proper noun to just a noun?
This week, the European Court of Justice clarified its stance on Champagne. At issue is the German budget retailer Aldi and its marketing of Champagne sorbet, which the grocer has sold since 2012. The case pitted the Champagne lobby Comité Champagne Comité Interprofessionnel du vin de Champagne against Aldi, and the court ruled in favor of the grocer, saying they could continue selling the product. The Champagne lobby claims Aldi was misleading as its sorbet only contain 12 percent Champagne.
According to Politico EU, the court wrote in its decision:
Use of the name ‘Champagner Sorbet’ does not take undue advantage (and therefore does not exploit the reputation) of the Protected Designation of Origin ‘Champagne’ if the product concerned has, as one of its essential characteristics, a taste that is primarily attributable to Champagne.
Essentially, if it tastes like Champagne, smells like Champagne, fizzes like Champagne, and contains actual Champagne, then by all means, keep calling it Champagne.