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Aug 10, 2007 07:10 PM

"Russian" Champagne

Several years ago, a friend told me about having "Russian" champagne when she was growing up in Germany in the late '60s and early '70s. All she could tell me was that this champagne was from somewhere near the Black Sea in what was then the Soviet Union.

Today, quite by chance, I noticed champagnes from Ukraine and Moldova in a local liquor store here in New Jersey. Is this something new or have these wines been around all the time and I just haven't noticed them? Are there any brand names to look for? Are any of them any good??? I can't find any previous info about them on this site.

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  1. When I visited Russia, their "local champagne" was enjoyed by Russians in clubs and restaurants... sort of a status symbol for them. Their "champagne" is VERY sweet... not the brut champagne we are more used to. I couldn't drink it, terrible.

    I've never seen them available in the US, probably for good reason... they are terrible. For the sake of those that don't know, true Champagne can only be made in the Champagne region of France. Other wines made in the same style, weather it be in California, Russia or elsewhere can't technically be called champagne, even though a lot of people do so... and which is why the OP used quotes.

    4 Replies
    1. re: WineTravel

      "... and which is why the OP used quotes "

      Correct, but the quotes should be around "Champagne".

      1. re: RicRios

        Yes, WineTravel and Ric Rios, the OP could have used quotes around "Champagne/champagnes" to be correct, or alternatively could have used the terms "methode champenoise [if it applies]," "bubbly" or "sparkling wine."

        But, RicRios, I believe the quotes that were employed -- around the word "Russian" -- are correct.

        This is a colloquial use, and also synecdoche: the word Russia, meaning the major part of the former Soviet Union, was often used to denote the entirety of the USSR in the era to which the OP is referring, the 60s-70s. Now that this use is no longer familiar, the quotes are correct.

        "Russian" "Champagne" has always been sweet. Goes way back to the days of the czars and Cossacks.

        1. re: maria lorraine

          Yep, Russky "champagne" or more correctly bizzarro method champangnoise, is mega sweet. Many of their wines are sweet as well. Semi-sec is probably still too sweet for many americans

          1. re: maria lorraine

            Maria Lorraine, you get a gold star for understanding why I put the word, Russian, in quotes. I hope no one gets into the act by saying that we should be using the term, 'quotation marks'. LOL.

            To be honest, I never considered puting the word, champagne, in quotes. I do understand that "true Champagne" comes only from the Champagne region of France. For better or for worse, however, the word has become generic, just like kleenex. Or should I say Kleenex.

            I did a bit more digging on the site and found a fair amount of information on wines, including champagne, from Georgia, which used to be part of the Soviet Union. According to several posters, these champagnes are not always sweet. I don't know if the same holds true for the champagnes from Ukraine and Moldova. I guess I'll just have to try them.

      2. Back in the day of the USSR, most of the wine production was in Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia, much less so in the RSFSR. I had the opportunity to try Soviet champagnes (I think one might have been "Iskra" brand), and some were quite sweet, some not, but none I tasted were like a French brut. Generally, the wines from the former USSR have been improving in quality, so even if the champers is sweeter than you're accustomed to, it might still be worth a shot. I don't know whether they make a sparkling wine, but products from Massandra (Ukraine) tend to be pretty good.

        1. Sovyetskoye Shampahnskoye (phonetic spelling) well and truly SUCKS! I had way too may bad hangovers from that crap when I was a student in the Soviet Union.

          TRUE STORY:

          PepsiCo -- yeah, Pespi-Cola -- through their "Monseur Henri Imports" division, signed the original agreement to bring in Stolichnaya Vodka into the US for sale when Richard Nixon was president. In part, it was a trade-off for selling Pepsi in the USSR . . . the Soviets didn't want to pay for Pepsi in hard (Western) currency, and Pepsi wouldn't take Russian Rubles, so . . . they took Stoli instead!

          Along with Stoli, they also agreed to take some "Soviet Champagne," labeled "Nazdrovneye" to attempt to sell in the US. Guess which one succeeded and which producet was a failure?

          2 Replies
          1. re: zin1953


            Are you working on a book, "Memoirs of a Wino" or some such? Please keep us posted!

            1. re: RicRios

              Scary, isn't it? My kids just vall me "the fountain of useless trivia . . . ." ;^)