Ignorance or Willful Misspeak?

At The Kosher Scene, we never thought we would become either consumer advocates or customer service people, it just never was part of what we envisioned, though… I guess being restaurant critics, where we show you the good and warn you of the pitfalls is somewhat akin to “consumer advocates,” perhaps?

Yesterday we received an angry email – from a faithful reader – with photos, and receipts clearly showing some deceiving advertising. The sum involved here was a paltry $2.40, so it obviously was not the money that motivated her email, rather it was the principle that caused her frustration and complaint.

The reader – who prefers her name withheld – went to a store at the 1700 block on Avenue M, in the Flatbush area (Brooklyn), this past Wednesday. The handwritten sign in the window promised a 15% special on “ANY 3 BOTTLES OF WINE,” she asked for a champagne and the bottle of Bartenura Asti was offered her as a “Champagne.” Needless to say, it isn’t any such, this Asti is merely a nice sparkling wine, but let’s set that aside for a moment.

She bought the Asti and two other bottles, expecting her 15% percent discount, then she was told by Chris, the store clerk, “A champagne is not a wine,” therefore it was not eligible for the discount, she then picked up a fourth bottle so as to get her discount on the other two… Chris also called Hal, his boss, who told our reader “Whiskey and bourbon are not wines, and champagne is not a wine.”

The Asti‘s label clearly says “Sweet Italian Sparkling Wine.” It clearly calls it a wine, NOWHERE is this bottle described as a “Champagne,” neither in the front, nor in the back! In all fairness, however, any store has the right – at its sole discretion – to decide which items are or are not part of any given special. To misspeak about a champagne (which – in this case – is not even a champagne by any stretch of the word!) not being a wine is something very different. At best it shows the clerk’s utter ignorance of the products the store carries, at worst it’s a deliberate misrepresentation.

Is champagne a wine? The Wikipedia says:


Champagne, situated in eastern France, close to Belgium and Luxembourg, is the coldest of France’s major wine regions and home to its major sparkling wine. Champagne wines can be both white and rosé. [my emphasis].

Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst‘s Food Lover’s Companion – on page 128, says:

Champagne; champagne [sham-PAYN] This most celebrated sparkling wine [my emphasis] always seems to signal “special occasion….”

There are myriad definitions of champagne online and in print clearly showing champagne as a wine, thus Chris, the store’s clerk, claim is absolutely wrong. If he did not intend to have sparkling wines on sale, why not just say in his handwritten sign that sparkling wines are not eligible for the sale?!?!? It would have saved the store a faithful, free spending, patron!

Was it worth for this merchant to so callously lose a customer over a mere $2.40 discount?!?!?


4 Responses to “Ignorance or Willful Misspeak?”

  1. June 8, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    They should fire that guy. What kind of moron doesn’t know that isn’t a wine, especially if it says on the bottle? Probably the same idiot who wrote that sign in horrible script on what appears to be a piece of cardboard scrap! I wish that woman could have just walked out the door, but she was probably in a hurry. At least she got the discount on the other wines.


  2. June 8, 2012 at 1:03 pm

    She should shop at Liquors Galore on J instead. They may not have the same discount, but when I’ve shopped there, I’ve always been able to find something in my price range. They are very helpful and knowledgeable, and if you go in and ask for a low to mid-range wine, like $10-$15, they can always find you something interesting and don’t get snooty.


  3. 3 Jason
    June 9, 2012 at 11:30 pm

    Champagne is nothing more than sparkling wine that comes from the Champagne region of France. Most countries have a law that forbids labeling sparkling wine as Champagne unless it comes from Champagne, France.


    • June 10, 2012 at 7:16 am

      Not only that, but it has to be produced using the Méthode Champenoise and made from Pinot Noir, Chardonnay or Pinot Blanc grapes. Even when the same method and the same grape(s) are produced outside of the Champagne region, the resulting wine is labeled Brut if it really, truly, resembles a champagne.


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