Man sues airline over 'champagne' that was sparkling wine

A Canadian man is suing an airline for serving sparkling wine rather than champagne on a flight to Cuba.

Daniel Macduff booked a holiday flying from Quebec to the Cuban island resort of Cayo Coco with Sunwing Airlines, which promised 'champagne service' on board.

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What arrived, though, was a glass of sparkling wine - and that was only on the flight out.

The case isn't really about the particular type of bubbly, Sebastien Paquette, Macduff's lawyer, tells Canada's National Post.

"You have to go beyond the pettiness of the (wine cost) per head," he says. "What's important is you're trying to lure consumers by marketing something, and you're not giving them that something... It's a dishonest practice."

About 1,600 other Sunwing passengers have come forward to join in a class action case. They are after the difference in price between sparkling wine and true champagne - a couple of quid per glass - as well as punitive damages.

Sunwing is trying to argue that 'champagne service' merely means excellent service, and doesn't mean passengers will actually get any. And its website does indeed promise only a 'welcome glass of sparkling wine'.

"Sunwing has always been proud to invest in experience-enhancing features for our customers," it says in a statement.

"We consider any legal action relating to the marketing of this service to be frivolous and without merit."

It has since dropped the 'champagne service' claim from its advertising.

However, Macduff, a retired civil servant, still believes he was misled, and that the 'couple of ounces' of cheap bubbly in a plastic glass didn't match up to what was advertised.

Legally, a bottle of sparkling wine can only be labelled 'champagne', if it has been made in the Champagne region of France and produced using the 'méthode champenoise'. If the wine is produced anywhere else, even with the same method, it must be given a different name.

Over the years, the champagne industry has fought hard to defend its brand, launching lawsuits of its own to stop other wine makers using the term.

Supermarket champagne taste test
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Supermarket champagne taste test

Score: 2/5

"Nice taste but not enough fizz."
"It's harsh at the back of the throat."
"This one's rather flat for me."

The Sainsbury's Taste the Difference might have been one of the priciest bottles of supermarket champagne but the tasters picked up on how quickly it went flat and scored it the same as the other bottle from Sainsbury's at 2/5.

Score: 4.5/5

"Oohh it's like drinking the stars."
"It has a lovely crisp, dryness."
"Well balanced, I could drink more of this."

This champagne had the tasters waxing lyrical and even going on to jokingly quote the forefather of chamagne, Dom Pérignon - "Come quickly, I am drinking the stars!" was falsely attributed to the monk in the late 19th century. They even tried to come back for more after scoring it a near-perfect 4.5/5.

Score: 4/5

"This is tart without being harsh."
"What a deicate flavour."
"This is the most distinctive and bold."

The Asda extra special might have been the cheapest bottle on trial but it packed the biggest flavour punch, scoring highly with the testers on aroma and depth putting it in second place with an average mark of 4/5.

Score: 3.5/5

"This tastes of luxury."
"It's very rich."
"Very smooth and slightly creamy."

Co-op's second offering was well received with all of the tasters praising its rich flavour notes and texture. Co-op's cheaper bottle scored highly enough to secure third place with an average mark of 3.5/5.

Score: 3/5

"Easy to drink and the most citrusy of the bunch."
"It's the most acidic."

"A bit too gassy - burping isn't great for a dinner party!"

The Waitrose champagne might have been one of the cheapest in the trial but it wasn't a favourite with the tasters who consistenly commented on its acidic aftertaste and scored it a mediocre 3/5

Score: 2.5/5

"Pungent smelling and a bit harsh."
"Fruity with very little acidity and quite well balanced."
"It's overpowering, I couldn't drink a lot of it."

Before the labels were hidden the tasters were the most excited to get stuck into this bottle from Marks and Spencer. Despite being the most expensive bottle in the trial, it only scored an average of 2.5/5 putting it in third place.

Score: 2/5

"It's not crisp at all, or fizzy enough."
"It's light, almost too light in fact."
"It tastes like cava to me."

This offering from Sainsbury's fell flat with our tasters, literally. All the testers commented on the lack of fizz and depth leaving the Blanc de Noirs with an average score of 2/5 and in jint bottom place.


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