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Champagne or No?

John Tilson • 3/18/10        Print This Post Print This PostComment Bookmark and Share

On a recent coast to coast airline flight, my food service tray was accompanied by a folded card that said on the front of it “Unmask the truth…” overlaying a bottle labeled “American Champagne.”  When I opened the folded card, the message inside read “No more cover-ups” and spoke to the fact that Champagne is only sparkling wine from the Champagne region of France and sparkling wine from other places is not Champagne.  The comments went on to insert a political message to tell Congress to protect consumers and stop deceptive wine labeling and to ask people to sign the petition at www.champagne.us to not allow sparkling wine to be called Champagne.  (See the illustrations at the end of the article for complete details.)

After I read this, I mentioned to my wife to look at the card, which I thought was pretty amusing.  How many times have we been offered “Champagne” on an airline flight?  I have traveled extensively and in 40+ years of airline travel have covered millions of miles and on most flights I have been offered “Champagne,” but rarely has it been Champagne.  The server tells you it is “Champagne” and even brings the bottle to show you if you ask, but it is nearly always sparkling wine, not Champagne.  Mostly on international flights, you are likely to get Champagne but then only when the plane is in the air. The “Champagne” offered before take-off is generally a sparkling wine, not Champagne.  It is ironic that the airline industry is one of the biggest abusers,  of representing sparkling wine as Champagne. But, they are the ones distributing the cards to educate the rest of us! Maybe they should distribute them to their employees who are serving us?  So, even on this flight, we were offered “Champagne” but, the Wine and Beverages card showed Prosecco being offered, listed as a sparkling wine and no Champagne was listed.  Yet, the servers continued to offer us “Champagne” even when we told them that the Prosecco sparkling wine was not Champagne.  Apparently, old habits are hard to break!

FRONT COVER OF CARD

Cover of Card

BACK COVER OF CARD

Back Cover of Card

INSIDE OF CARD

Inside of Card

AIRLINE WINE & BEVERAGE CARD

Airline Wine & Beverage Card

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2 comments for “Champagne or No?”

  • madeleine de Jean says:

    Though this article is now two years old this is the first time I have seen it. Actually I do not agree with John on the times airlines offer “Champagne”. However I am sure he is correct that American airlines call the offered sparkling wine Champagne when it is not. And therefore the card offered him is an enigma. Or an oximoron. I have never been served a “sparkling” wine on Air france or on Air Thati Nui. Travel on those, John.

    • John Tilson says:

      Thanks Madeleine,
      It is nice to hear from you even after two years. But, in the case of this article it is as true today as it was then. In the U.S. the the word “Champagne” is often used interchangeably (and wrongly) in restaurants, stores, airlines and amongst the general public. The reason why “sparkling wine” is not served on the airlines you mention is that they are affiliated with France which is, of course, where Champagne is produced. I have never had “sparking wine” served as “Champagne” on those airlines. And, that is unlikely to ever happen unless that start serving sparkling wine from Burgundy or the Loire Valley. And, if that should ever happen, I can assure you that they will not serve those wines and call them “Champagne”. Fortunately, I have other reasons for flying an airline that are more important than whether or not I am served “Champagne” or “sparkling wine”. The main one is “does the airline fly to where I want to go at the time I want to go?” The second is “what is the price”. I don’t even think much about food and wine on airlines any more because on my flights in the U.S. and Europe (which are the areas I fly the most) the food and wine has sunk to the point where most of it is not worth eating. That’s sad for those of us who remember that “first class” service used to include “first class” food and wine. Not so anymore unless you are flying to the Orient or the Mid East on one of the carriers based there.

      In Vino Veritas,

      John

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