TIL Russians Can’t Afford Lemons and Champagne

At least according to “journalist” Lizzy Saxe:

Harold noticed that “Russians consume a lot more lemons per capita than many other parts of the world. I was wondering, is that because they drink a lot of vodka? Is it because they’re big tea drinkers? Why are they using so many lemons?” He started to investigate. He discovered that the answer wasn’t quite that universal.

Unsurprisingly, lemons don’t grow in Russia. It’s too cold to produce them, so you have to buy them from far, far away. That makes the sour yellow citrus expensive. So expensive, in fact, that, “wealthy Russians really like to incorporate lemons into their lifestyle. It communicates to people that they have the means to be able to afford them. They call it the bling of produce.”

However, at least she is not a “former Soviet-American” (was he that triggered by Drumpf?) politics professor in Canada:


/ Implying that champagne was a luxury good even in the late USSR (to say nothing of Russia today).

Though it seems that some people lapped it up.

Profile: “Student. Aspiring journalist. Moscow, Paris, Reims, in Beirut for a year. Upside down. Check out @WatchXenophobia“.

His website: Revolutionary Democracy

@WatchXenophobia: “Tracking state violence against migrants & normalization of xenophobia [email protected] #RefugeesWelcome #NoOneIsIllegal

PS. 1 kg of lemons costs around 1 Euro. One bottle of Abrau-Durso brut (a rather decent champagne) costs about 4 Euros. Average monthly wage in 2018 was 580 Euros.

Anatoly Karlin is a transhumanist interested in psychometrics, life extension, UBI, crypto/network states, X risks, and ushering in the Biosingularity.


Inventor of Idiot’s Limbo, the Katechon Hypothesis, and Elite Human Capital.


Apart from writing booksreviewstravel writing, and sundry blogging, I Tweet at @powerfultakes and run a Substack newsletter.


  1. Is it still true that Russia has the only Champagne appellation outside France? (Szampan)

  2. Grandpa Barsoap says

    at least she is not a “former Soviet-American”

    Well, maybe not personally, but probably ancestorily, and is certainly of the same Race as most prominent examples of the same.

    Saxe as a surname appears in the Index to Russian Consular Records (38,533 surnames of 70,000 persons who transacted business with the Russian czarist consulates in the United States from about 1849-1926).

    The surname also appears in
    – Jewish Records Indexing – Poland
    – Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from the Kingdom of Poland
    – Index to State Department records found in the U.S. National Archives containing Jewish names in the section on protection of interests of U.S. citizens in Russia (3,104 surnames). 5,000 records.
    … among other lists of Jewish surnames.

    So yeah, without having researched her entire family tree, I’d say the odds are better than even that she does have some “former Soviet-American” in the woodpile somewhere. Aside from the obvious Jewishness of her physiognomy.

  3. When you reading opinion piece about Russia in the western media, always remember that it’s written by people, who thinks that in Russia lemons and champagne are luxury goods and, probably, bears walking on the streets.

  4. Anonymous lurker says

    “Unsurprisingly, lemons don’t grow in Russia.”

    Uh, they do. Not in any large commercial scale, but there are multiple cultivars that grow outdoors in parts of Russia and that yield fruit. Meyer, Pavlovsky, Sochinsky etc. In the RSFSR there were some open air plantations that worked just fine until the 1970’s, and just recently new ones have been planted in Crimea.

    “It’s too cold to produce them”

    The current (granted, small-scale) commercial growing in Russia takes place in futuristic high-tech establishments called “greenhouses”, though. Как тебе такое, Илон Маск?

    “so you have to buy them from far, far away.”

    Yeah, typically from the other side of the galaxy, like Abkhazia and Uzbekistan…

    BTW, I checked some Russian stores and €1-1.5 indeed seems to be the typical price for 1kg. That is frickin’ cheap… Here ONE lemon is about €1.5 (they are nearly always sold per piece, regardless of size/weight).

  5. Bloody hell, I can’t even get good champagne in my neck of the wood, only overpriced bitter piss.

  6. Thorfinnsson says

    This is a legal matter. The usage of the term “Champagne” is restricted to sparkling wines produced in the Champagne region of France in Europe and much of the Western world.

    The former USSR doesn’t agree with this and sparkling wines from there are still sold as champagne (I believe they might call it Soviet or Russian champagne rather than just champagne–ask AK).

    Personally I consider any sparkling wine to be champagne. And in my experience you can simply carbonate a normal bottle of wine at home with a Sodastream and it tastes exactly like champagne.

  7. Anonymous lurker says

    That “Antons” response is gold too, I just noticed:
    “Are you saying that Poklonskaya is drinking the 300 rubles champagne?”

    She could be drinking crazy expensive fizz, but that’s not the point. Champagne per se isn’t “out of reach”. I mean, it’s not like there aren’t varieties of champagne available in any country that are prohibitively expensive for the average citizen, but that says zilch, and her drinking unnamed champagne communicates zilch.

  8. Polish Perspective says

    That said, real incomes for Russians have been declining for years.


    Ignore the idiotic headline, it’s the FT which is mixing up real disposable income with real wages (the latter has grown quite a bit). Why have real disposable incomes shrunk, then? RBC.ru has the story.

    The Ministry of Labor explained the drop in the income of Russians despite rising wages.

    Maxim Topilin, Minister of Labor, explained why the real incomes of Russians are constantly falling, even though wages are rising. This is due to the reduction of illegal employment, the minister said.’

    Despite the growth in wages by 3.4% in real terms in 2017, the disposable income of citizens decreased by 1.7%, according to Rosstat. Such diverse dynamics were also observed in 2016. “This has never happened, usually the real wages, which make up the vast majority of income, pulled up the growth of real incomes,” admitted Topilin.

    The World Bank estimated some years ago that formal wages only represent around 38% of Russian household incomes, contrary to the minister’s statement. If he is right and they are wrong then the declines in the shadow sector must have been phenomenal.
    Longer-term, this is a net positive because the state can raise more direct taxes and formal sector jobs are more productive. Still, for households it is a net loss nonetheless, especially when staggered for five straight years.

    Politically speaking, introducing the necessary pension reform at the tail end of such a bad streak was a risky, if not brave, move.

  9. Thorfinnsson says

    Russia is also running a substantial budget surplus these days. By definition this reduces income to households and businesses.


    The Finance Ministry reported a strong RUB2.5 trillion (3.5% of GDP) federal budget surplus for the first nine months of 2018, overshooting both the RUB2.2 trillion consensus and our RUB2.3 trillion forecast. The outperformance was caused not so much by the high oil price but rather thanks to 15% YoY growth in non-oil revenue (vs. the annual plan of 10% YoY), which is a result of more efficient collection procedures, as well as tightly controlled 2% YoY expenditure growth, at the lower range of the annual 2-5% growth guidance.

    The government also has plans to raise the rate of investment, which will put further downward pressure household income: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-09-03/putin-wants-big-business-to-spend-120-billion-to-revive-economy

    Whether or not this will actually happen I have no idea.

  10. Swarthy Greek says

    There are a lot of “Doom and gloom” articles about the Russian economy: https://www.themoscowtimes.com/2019/02/16/in-search-of-better-quality-of-life-russians-lean-on-credit . These kind of articles predicting a credit crisis are ubiquitous despite the fact that debt levels in Russia are among the lowest in the world.

  11. Abrau-Durso brut (a rather decent champagne) costs about 4 Euros

    This is a “Russian champagne” (from Krasnodar). It’s not what the real “champagne” – which is the champagne (not prosecco either) from the champagne region of France.

    For a bottle of champagne from champagne , the price is expensive and it is the same “luxury product” as anywhere (for brands like Moët & Chandon they seem to increase the price when they export to Russia, so it’s even more expensive – because luxury product sells itself when it appears more luxurious).

  12. Thorfinnsson says

    Did they increase it before 2014 as well? Now the higher price may simply reflect the lower value of the Rouble.

    And there’s nothing wrong with sparkling wines not made in Champagne, though I can’t comment on FSU sparkling wines.

  13. Personally I consider any sparkling wine to be champagne. And in my experience you can simply carbonate a normal bottle of wine at home with a Sodastream and it tastes exactly like champagne.

    Lol a good business idea.

    You would need to add sugar also to copy the taste.

  14. I think it could be up to 50% more expensive. I’m not sure though. For a lot of luxury brands, it’s often around 30%-50% higher prices than in Europe.

    It’s not related to exchange rates.

    There is sometimes more expensive because an importer which receives a part of the profit. However, there are also luxury brands which sell directly in Russia, and they can increase the price a lot (I guess because Dior, Chanel, etc, find the category of customers who want to spend more not less).

    It also even for some budget products – IKEA sells the same products more expensively in Russia.

    America has something similar with Whole Foods though. I remember the price of the Lurpak butter there…

  15. Dacian Julien Soros says

    I think that carbonating wine directly would cause a massive splash.

    Also, Whenever a Russian whines that “Russian champagne” is not real champagne, he should be informed that, in American shelves, otherwise well stocked with French wine, there is more California champagne than French champagne. The trick that, of course, American shoppers would buy whatever they like, afford, and are advertised. The idea that California champagne will be labeled anything other that “champagne” is cute in its naivete. French fries are not made in France, “Greek feta” is from Wisconsin, and “American champagne” would not be selling.

    In that same direction, China is one of the largest wine producers in the world, but surprisingly there are no Chinese wines on sale in US. Vietnam is one of the largest exporters of coffee, but Americans can enjoy “Italian coffee”, “Irish coffee”, and so on.

  16. Thorfinnsson says

    Same question applies to IKEA. Were IKEA goods also more expensive prior to 2015?

    Butter imports in America are subject to both quota restriction and tariffs. Then there is the cost of transatlantic transport.

    I also assume that the cost of production of butter in the EU is higher than in the USA, though I have no evidence of this.

    European butter, at least the butters that are imported, is also a superior product to most American butter. European butters on sale here vary from 82-86% milkfat, whereas most American butter is 80% milkfat. Lurpak is admittedly nothing special, but American consumers don’t know this. And admittedly now some American creameries produce premium butters with a higher fat content.

    Whole Foods is also a premium grocer, and thus their prices tend to be higher across the board.

  17. Thorfinnsson says

    Vietnam, along with other major coffee growing countries, simply exports coffee beans.

    Roasting, packaging, distribution, marketing, and other more profitable parts of the coffee value chain remain in the highly industrialized countries.

    If measured by value rather than tonnage Germany, Switzerland, Italy, France, and Belgium are among the world’s top ten coffee exporting countries–ranking third, fifth, sixth, ninth, and tenth respectively. Obviously coffee beans are not grown in Europe.


  18. It also even for some budget products – IKEA sells the same products more expensively in Russia.

    Some twenty years ago lots of cheap Western products were considered a luxury in Hungary, in part because they were far from being the cheapest in Hungary. For example McDonald’s was significantly more expensive than cheap self-service restaurants (though it’s possible that those had even lower quality ingredients etc.), or IKEA was also significantly more expensive than similar locally made products (whose price included assembly, too). I bought a locally made sofa over fifteen years ago, and it’s still okay. I don’t think the quality was any worse than in IKEA.

  19. for-the-record says

    Greek feta” is from Wisconsin

    After a long court battle, in the EU only Greece can use the name “feta”, and in fact only certain regions in Greece (Crete can’t, for example); Danish feta cheese is now marketed under the name “Apetina”. In Canada an agreement was reached with the EU so that any “new” feta cheese producer has to use the description “feta-style”.

    And in the US:

    EU Wants American Cheesemakers to Stop Using Names Like Gorgonzola, Feta, and Parmesan

    Could this be the start of “Wisconsin-made feta-style white cheese product”?


  20. Swedish Family says

    The former USSR doesn’t agree with this and sparkling wines from there are still sold as champagne (I believe they might call it Soviet or Russian champagne rather than just champagne–ask AK).

    Soviet champagne was really glorified alcopop

    Wine was drunk in Russia only by the aristocracy before the 1917 Revolution. But all this changed under Stalin, who believed that wine had to be affordable for every Soviet citizen.

    Scientists who were recruited to resolve the problem managed to produce frost-resistant, high-yielding varieties of grape. But the quality suffered: wines made from such grapes were barely palatable because of their high acidity and lack of taste.

    To remedy this flaw, grape sugar and often ethyl alcohol were added to the wines – practices that are still widely used in the Russian wine industry to this day.

    “Plants in Iran or Italy use bad grapes or juice-making waste to produce a concentrate that is essentially poorly refined grape sugar,” says Yelena Denisova, who chairs the board of directors at Chateau le Grand Vostock, one of a dozen good-quality Russian wine producers.

    “This is an ideal camouflage for swill. This concentrate is added to poor, sour, semi-wine at the fermentation stage or mixed in with ready fermented wine material in an attempt to correct its awful taste. On top of that, artificial flavours and colours are added.”


    Most Eastern European stores sell a few brands of these — all terrible, of course, but Rīgas with cookies works as dessert.

  21. I don’t think this is a result of costs or exchange rates, but more like a pricing strategy of some foreign brands.

    It’s famous that IKEA is more expensive in some countries and cheaper in others, and that Russia is almost the more expensive IKEA in the world.

    Cost of business will be cheaper for IKEA in Russia (lower salaries for employees, lower rents – although they pay some bribes).

    So I assume it is just their pricing strategy: they are probably aiming for more middle class customers and attain higher profits from this strategy.

    Starbucks is similarly more expensive in Russia than America. I assume this was intentional strategy to be a “prestigious” cafe which it is not in America.

    There is now mass entry to Moscow of Israel’s coffee chain “Cofix”. This is selling coffee cheaper than in their domestic market (Israel). Cofix price strategy is to be the “cheapest” coffee chain, while Starbucks strategy is to be a “prestigious” coffee chain.

    Overall running cost of foreign coffee chains in Russia, is surely comparatively cheaper than in their domestic market. Yet Starbucks is still expensive – so it is their strategy.

    There are also many luxury brands which sell directly in Russia, where they increase the price.

    Direct selling companies like Chanel, Cartier, Dior, have higher prices in Russia, I assume because in Russia their demand is very inelastic to price (for category of people who buy this).

    There’s also an annoying that some companies like Miele (washing and drying machines) are marketing in Russia as a prestigious ‘luxury product’ (even though in Europe, they are just normal middle class products). It has official shops and dealers. And in official and luxury shops, and sells at a more expensive “official price”.

    If you compare in the UK, Miele is viewed as an “ordinary product” which you can buy as a “bargain”. In the UK, they sell Miele in the ordinary and cheap shops, and usually a much lower “bargain” price than the official price (it could almost be cheaper to buy it in England and ship it).

  22. I drank


    though it had a black label iirc.

    At some point (in 1970s ?) they changed its name to “igristoye” probably after they made some deal with France.


    I had no complaints about these Soviet wines. Were they artificially carbonated? I doubt it. I did my own artificially carbonated wines at home and they were much worse than the Soviet stuff. I think I could tell the difference between artificially carbonated wine and the natural Champagne process. The bubbles in the latter seem to be smaller when they re being released, though I do not know the physics behind it.

  23. There’s hope here. It was the same in Hungary until the late 1990s, but then quality won out, with the necessary help of the authorities. Slowly the same happened to the pálinka (fruit spirit) and other drinks. It’s a question of political will.

    Though Hungary used to have a wine culture before 1945, so maybe that helped.

  24. A sparkling wine is produced in Hungary under the name of Sovyetskoye Igristoye, written in Cyrillic. They bought some mass production technology from the USSR in the late 1980s, and it’s the commercially most successful product in the category, despite it not being the cheapest.

    I don’t like any kind of champagne, wherever it’s produced or however expensive it is, so I cannot judge if it’s good. But many people like it, for what it’s worth.

  25. “Sparkling wines have been produced in Central and Eastern Europe since the early 19th-century. “Champagne” was further popularised in the region, late in the century, when József Törley started production in Hungary using French methods, learned as an apprentice in Reims. Törley has since become one of the largest European producers of sparkling wine. ” – Wiki

    “Later, when deliberate sparkling wine production increased in the early 18th century, cellar workers would still have to wear a heavy iron mask that resembled a baseball catcher’s mask to prevent injury from spontaneously bursting bottles.” – Wiki

    “The British were the first to see the tendency of wines from Champagne to sparkle as a desirable trait and tried to understand why it produced bubbles. Wine was often transported to England in wooden wine barrels where merchant houses would then bottle the wine for sale. During the 17th century, English glass production used coal-fueled ovens and produced stronger, more durable glass bottles than the wood-fired French glass.[5] The English also rediscovered the use of cork stoppers, once used by the Romans but forgotten for centuries after the fall of the Western Roman Empire. ” – Wiki

    “The process of carbon injection (or carbonation), the method used to make soda pop fizzy, does not involve initiating a secondary fermentation but rather injecting carbon dioxide gas directly into the wine. This method produces large bubbles that quickly dissipate and is generally only used in the cheapest sparkling wines.” – Wiki (I do not know physics why it is so.)

    “A study conducted at the University of Surrey in the United Kingdom gave subjects equal amounts of flat and sparkling Champagne which contained the same levels of alcohol. After 5 minutes following consumption, the group that had the sparkling wine had 54 milligrams of alcohol in their blood while the group that had the same sparkling wine, only flat, had 39 milligrams.” – Wiki

  26. John Burns, Gettysburg Partisan says


    Related: Montefiore’s book Court of the Red Tsar shared an amusing anecdote of Stalin’s decision to force one of his underlings to try growing lemons somewhere in Abkhazia. It didn’t really work very well (Stalinism being Stalinism), but anyone who says lemons can’t grow in Russia or the Russian sphere is an ignorant monkey.

  27. John Burns, Gettysburg Partisan says

    American butter is a disgrace.

    Some friends of mine have a family cow. They share their milk with me. Luckily they make their own butter from time to time. It is a rare treat.

    American multinationals can’t produce the real stuff.

  28. Same goes for ‘Szampan’.

    “76 years before the famous “Judgment of Paris,” at the 1900 Paris World’s Fair, a sparkling wine from Crimea defeated all the French entries to claim the internationally coveted “Grand Prix de Champagne.” You may need to let that sink in for a few minutes. In 1900, in France, Sparkling Wine from the Ukraine won the top prize for Champagne.
    The wine, known as Novy Svet, was made by Prince Lev Sergeievitch Golitsyn… at his wine estate in Crimea. Crimea is a peninsula of the Ukraine located on the northern shore of the Black Sea. Lying between 44° and 45° in latitude, the region has an excellent climate for growing high quality grapes. As a matter of fact, during Soviet times this region was the largest wine supplier in the USSR – which sounds like a good story for another day.
    Prince Golitsyn, having studied both law and winemaking in France, established his winery in 1878 on the southern coast of Crimea. He dug a series of wine cellars into Koba-Kaya Mountain (Cave Mountain), much of it below sea level. All in all the tunnels stretched on for over a mile. He planted experimental vineyards of Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Noir, Aligote and Pinot Meunier and spent ten years perfecting the art of sparkling wine. The Prince used a variation of what we would call the Methode Traditionelle, allowing his wines to rest on the lees, in the bottle, for three years in his cellars at a constant, underground temperature of 59 – 60°F.
    By the late 1890’s, the Prince was an experienced enologist and was producing a large array of sparkling wines. In 1896 his wines were served at the coronation of Tsar Nicholas II (who would wind up being the last in a long line of Tsars) and Golitsyn was granted the right to display the family coat of arms on this wines. Soon thereafter, in 1899, Novy Svet
    Novy Svet Winery’s “Coronation” Sparkling Wine produced its first large-scale production, making over 60,000 bottles of sparkling wine…one of which won the Grand Prix in Paris.
    Legend has it that Prince Golitsyn was inspired to build an estate in the area during a passionate love affair with Nadezhda Zasetska, an aristocratic young lady who had inherited large land holdings in the Crimea. It is rumored that the Prince bought the land to be near to her and studied enology in order to impress her. We may never know if the rumors are true, but it does seem that wine and romance often go hand-in-hand.
    Prince Golitsyn passed away in 1915 and was buried in a large tomb on his beloved estate. The Novy Svet winery did not survive the Russian Revolution and the beginnings of the Soviet Union intact, and was plundered and nearly destroyed several times. Today the restored winery, including the underground tunnels, is government-owned. Under the leadership of Ms. Yanaina Petrovna Pavlenko, the winery produces a wide range of unique sparkling wines, many of them reflective of the original style and spirit of Prince Golitsyn.
    In 1978, in honor of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Novy Svet Winery, the Golitsyn House Museum was opened in the house where the Prince lived for over 37 years”.

    I had it from a Romanian officer, over a bottle of Russian Champagne (readily available in socialist Romania too – BTW, when you could still get your hand on Black Sea black caviar), that the Romanian troops who occupied Crimea ‘discovered’ an enormous tunnel ‘mined’ with explosive bottles of Champagne. They set to ‘demine’ it with gusto for the whole period of the occupation. And he told me regretfully: ‘We haven’t been able to ‘demine’ but a few meters from the entrance’.

  29. I can top Russians with Hungarians.

    “Upon one of his base wine acquisition trips to Budafok, Hungary, Törley realized that the conditions there were perfect for the production of sparkling wine. Törley determined that the soils of Budafok, more closely than anywhere else in Europe, resembled the chalky limestone soil extant in the Champagne region of France which was necessary for producing the characteristics in the base wine of champagne. In 1882, Törley moved his factory from Reims to Budafok and proceeded to replicate every aspect of the champagne production he had learned in France, including the methods used to grow grapes at his vineyards in Etyek, Hungary. Törley also had 45 miles worth of cellars carved out of Budafok’s limestone hills to ensure the uniform temperature required for maintaining the quality of the wine throughout production. Törley’s quarried limestone went into the construction of Hungary’s Parliament which, upon completion in 1904, was the largest building on earth.” – Wiki

    “In addition to having produced a high quality crémant (called pezsgő in Hungarian) and remaining innovative, Törley also had keen insight into the marketing of the beverage. With his great emphasis on marketing and advertising, by around the start of the 20th century, Törley’s plant was one of the most modern wine producing facilities in the world. By the time of the World Expo held in Budapest in 1896, the Törley cellars had been granted the title of “suppliers to the imperial and royal court” since Törley was supplying the Habsburgs with his sparkling wine. Törley himself was granted the title of nobility by Franz Joseph, Emperor of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. ” – Wiki

    “By 1910, there was competition from other champagne producers in Hungary. Budafok alone had 18 different producer operating, but the Törley plant still had the greatest market share in Hungary. The winery’s output reached 2 million bottles and Törley had become one of the leading brands of sparkling wine in Europe.” – Wiki

  30. Real incomes are stagnant because social transfer payments have basically been frozen in real terms since 2015, I am unsure what the impact of falling illegal employment has been, real wages grew by 6.8% in real terms in 2018, the fastest growth in many years. The freezing of social payments has had the positive benefit of creating a large budget surplus it must be said.

  31. Now that I started on memories, a little personal story. Many, many years ago traveling in Transylvania, we came close to the beautiful Bethlen-Haller Castle at Cetatea de Balta (Küküllővár/Kokelburg). In that time the castle was used as the ‘secția de șampanizare’ of the vineyard of Jidvei, the favorite wines of Ceaușescu. We tried to visit the castle, but the guardian told us humorously: “You can’t, we make champagne for Ceaușescu here, and you know, it’s dangerous, ‘șampania pușcă’! In fact, being a restricted area, the guards might shoot at you. So, we went on our way.
    Nowadays, the champagne section was moved and the castle restored by the new owners, who are also the owners of the vineyards, and can be visited.
    But it continues to produce a great variety of ‘sparkling’ at affordable prices.


  32. Törley also had 45 miles worth of cellars carved out of Budafok’s limestone hills

    I can top Hungary with Moldova.

    Cricova cellar: 75 miles.
    Milestii Mici cellar: 120 miles.

    USSR built stuff on a large scale indeed.

  33. The Alarmist says

    “20 million people live below the poverty line in Russia. Even the cheaper champagne bottles will cost them between 5 and 15% of their monthly earnings.”

    Gee, and the number in the US, with a bit more than twice the population, is roughly 40m, so the Ruskies aren’t doing so bad.

  34. That’s “relative poverty” not real poverty.

    “Poor people” in America, are middle class in Russia, and more than middle class in many other countries.

    Income which defines being below the poverty line in America, is three times the median income in Russia.

    Incomes in America are insanely high by any international standards, and this distorts the concept of relative poverty in America.

  35. Swedish Family says

    At some point (in 1970s ?) they changed its name to “igristoye” probably after they made some deal with France.

    It seems the name change is far more recent

    Under European Union law, as well as treaties accepted by most nations, sparkling wines produced outside the champagne region, even wine produced in other parts of France, do not have the right to use the term “champagne”. Hungary (which originally produced Sovetskoye Shampanskoye under Soviet license), by contrast, today produces the beverage under the name Sovetskoye Igristoye, a name that was also used by some Soviet producers.

    Russian speakers will have to confirm, but my guess is that igristoye means something like bubbly (the adjective игристый turned into a noun, which is a common Russian word formation).

    I had no complaints about these Soviet wines. Were they artificially carbonated? I doubt it. I did my own artificially carbonated wines at home and they were much worse than the Soviet stuff. I think I could tell the difference between artificially carbonated wine and the natural Champagne process.

    Not quite. They used (and use) what is known as the tank (or reservoir) method, which Wikipedia describes this way

    The wine is mixed in a stainless steel pressure tank, together with sugar and yeast. When the sugar is converted into alcohol and carbon dioxide, the yeast is filtered and removed, and the wine is bottled. The duration of fermentation affects the quality; longer fermentation preserves the wine’s aromas better and gives finer and more durable bubbles.

    This production method is widely used in the U.S., in Italy, especially in the Asti province, and in Prosecco wines, and in Germany to produce cheap variants of Sekt. Charmat-method sparkling wines can be produced at a considerably lower cost than traditional method wines.

    It seems I was wrong, by the way, to suggest that these wines are cut with fruit concentrate. I seem to remember reading that claim somewhere but can’t find any source to support it. More likely is that these wines are simply the result of mediocre grapes + tank method + generous addition of sugar. Real Russian bubbly, however, can hold its own against the best of them. Here is a blind tasting where it won out against a selection of Champagne’s finest.

  36. Yes, those countries have been blessed with the divine Vine.
    “Lord, O Lord, look down from heaven! See and visit this vineyard and bring it to perfection, for your right hand has planted it. May your hand be upon the sons of man whom You affirmed for yourself”.
    Let all commune drinking the wine, the Lord’s Blood, shed for our sins, and avoid those who refuse to drink it.

  37. What you describe

    The wine is mixed in a stainless steel pressure tank..

    is not an artificial carbonation.

    It seems that “Sovetskoye Shampanskoye” as long as it is spelled in Cyrillic is a brand name that France does not object to ro treats it as a spoof or joke.

  38. Income which defines being below the poverty line in America, is three times the median income in Russia.
    Incomes in America are insanely high by any international standards, and this distorts the concept of relative poverty in America.

    In such cases, it is necessary to consider the purchasing power, otherwise it is completely meaningless figures. America of course rich country, but “Income which defines being below the poverty line in America, is three times the median income in Russia” this of course in reality nonsense.

  39. The Sovietykoye Igristoye is produced in Hungary, and it’s been called that for at least decades. Certainly at the end of the 1990s.

  40. In such cases, it is necessary to consider the purchasing power, otherwise it is completely meaningless figures.

    Poverty rate is only provided as a nominal figure.
    If you want to calculate it by purchasing power you can by yourself, but this is not available data.

    The point is when people talk about “poverty” in America, it is not real poverty.

    (To compare, “poverty line” in Russia at the beginning of 2019, is officially calculated around 124,000 rubles a year.)

    but “Income which defines being below the poverty line in America, is three times the median income in Russia” this of course in reality nonsense.

    What’s inconceivably more expensive in America is:
    1. Education
    2. Healthcare/medicines.

    Both of these cause people in debt to the banks for their life, and this is the reason for most discontent about the American economy (in addition to lower “home ownership rates”).

    But for Americans “living in official poverty”, to have a car, three televisions, wearing new Nike Air Max, living in a large house, etc – it is a realistic joke.

  41. If you want to calculate it by purchasing power you can by yourself, but this is not available data.

    Can be roughly calculate. The median salary in Russia in 2018 (after taxes) – 30 000 rubles. The exchange rate of the ruble to the dollar at PPP-23: 1 (that is, the Russian median salary – about $ 1,300). American median salary as far as I know $ 2,500 (before taxes). That is (if to estimate on PPP) statements that the American level of poverty is three times higher than the Russian median salary – obvious wrong.

    About the poverty you quite correctly wrote. However in Russia, too, there is a vast class of fictitious poor (which can, if desired, easily have a car, three television, living in a large house, etc.)

  42. (To compare, “poverty line” in Russia at the beginning of 2019, is officially calculated around 124,000 rubles a year.)

    Median salary from April 2017, around 296400 rubles a year (nominal $4,475).

    Poverty line for individual person in the USA in 2018 – $12,100.

    Median salary in Russia April 2017, is equivalent (by purchasing parity) to $12,293 a year.

    So applying “US Federal poverty line”, will be near to half of income in April 2017 would be categorized by the 2018 US “poverty line” as “poor” (below $12,100).

  43. I strongly agree that comparing national poverty across countries is retarded. Let’s no be Okuspearchuckers.

    As I wrote in the Top 10 Ways in Which Russia/USA are Better than Russia/USA, Americans are approximately twice as materially well off as Russians in price-adjusted terms, and quadruple times as better off in nominal terms. Education, healthcare, and most services in general is one major reason for the discrepancy.

  44. Sure it was nominal figures, and not quite accurate as from memory.

    But figures by purchasing power, and we can still see the distortion of the concept of “poverty”:

    By 2017 PPP conversion figure – https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/PA.NUS.PPP

    “Poverty line” in Russia – roughly $5000 per year by purchasing power ($1812 nominal).

    “Poverty line” in USA – $12,100 per year.

    Median salary in Russia (April 2017) – $12,293 per year by purchasing power (nominal $4,475).

    • Of course, international comparison, is not so easy as this. In America, you could be paying your student loan all your life. Equally, you can become ill in America without medical insurance, and you can have to pay the bank for all of your life.

    But nonetheless, “poor” African Americans are often with an iPhone 8, new Nikes and a car. By any international and historical standards, most of the American “poor” are actually middle class.

  45. Something surprising in America, is the real poor people there – e.g. shocking numbers of homeless people sleeping on the Santa Monica beach, or all over San Francisco.

    However, in general, American “poor” are what any normal country would define as middle class.

    Whenever I watch Nike unboxings, – it’s all unemployed African Americans with iPhone 8 Plus (4:00 – lol it’s still 61,000 ruble phones, and pretty sure that’s “poor blacks in Detroit”).

  46. Something surprising in America, is the real poor people there – e.g. shocking numbers of homeless people sleeping on the Santa Monica beach, or all over San Francisco.

    This is about mentally ill people, and addicts, not being housed and treated but roaming free instead, rather than about any sort of poverty caused by economic reasons.

    You are correct- if by real poverty you mean poverty caused by lack of economic opportunity, exploitation, etc. etc. there is almost no real poverty in America. It exists in pockets (there are some nasty roach-infested ghetto apartments whose residents don’t own cars or iphones) but it is rare even in the poor inner cities.

  47. Swedish Family says

    is not an artificial carbonation.

    That’s right, so my alcopop comparison was doubly unfair. Still not a fan, though. 🙂

  48. Champagne does have a certain classy message in Hungary, but not because it is expensive as indeed Törley and BB are not. But nevertheless people drink it in situations where they want to feel like having a special time, like birthdays, new years eve, celebrating something or just going to the music club in designer jeans and wanting to feel rich. Not everything that is classy necessarily expensive. More like sort of a sophistication signal or just feeling special.

  49. Not retarded if done properly. The trick is to not be interested in degenerate stuff like how many hours people have to work to get an iPhone. The normal purpose of the economy is reproduction. The reason a man works is to support a family. With kids. For example, one thing people really like to have when they have kids is some living space, not living very cramped. So comparing how many hours people have to work to afford a square meter within commuting distance to industrial or business parks is a relevant thing across countries.

  50. “1 kg of lemons costs around 1 Euro”

    You sure? I am in a lemon growing region and only see them that cheap at peak harvest time.