Sunday, April 3, 2016

Labeling Fraud

... or in German in just one word: Etikettenschwindel. When reading today's Sunday newspaper Red Baron was shocked about an article headed: Badischer Gutedel in Schweizer Verpackung (A chasselas from Baden in a Swiss package). What happened?

When it turned out that the 2015 grape harvest in the Romandie (the French speaking part of Switzerland notably Valais and Vaud) was below expectations Coop, biggest retailer of wine in Switzerland, bought Gutedel wine from southern Baden to fill its inox steel tanks rather than its oak barrels. So far so good, thirsty throats need their cheap fill.

Unfortunately the story did not end here. The wine from Baden was mis en bouteille (bottled) in Basel and sold at Coop's as table wine labelled Chasselas, Vin de Pays, with the addition Les Coursons. Although Red Baron had lived in Geneva for 32 years and enjoyed in particular the Fendant, a chasselas from Valais, he had to look up the word courson in a dictionary. I did not find the translation right away. Only with the help of Google I dug out that the word courson is used when grafting trees. So a courson à bois is a renewal spur and a courson à fruit a fruiting lateral. Therefore I regard the words Les Coursons printed on the label of a wine bottle sold in the German speaking part of Switzerland as misinformation and a pertinence to customers. In fact, Coop said that they will (dare?) not sell this cheap wine in La Romandie where the connoisseurs of chasselas are native.

Intended? confusion at Coop's in Basel: A bottle of  Swiss Chasselas de Romandie
between two bottles of German Chasselas, Vin de Pays.
The bottles are similarly labelled with the addition of Les Coursons (©Der Sonntag/Dietrich)
It's common practice in Switzerland to sell consumer products either labeled in their three national languages or with different labels in the German speaking part of the country and in la Suisse romande. So Les Grands Dignitaires, the better quality Fendant from the Valais, is sold in La Romandie as Les Chanoines (the canons), Idéal pour l'apéro, le bistro et le caveau and in der deutschen Schweiz as Domherrenwein, Idéal pour l'open air, la raclette et les afters. Sorry, that is no German text but a mixture of French and English considered chic. For a German speaking reader: What are afters if not several anuses?

Les Chanoines (©provins)
Domherrenwein (©provins)
The winegrowers from Baden are somewhat indignant with Coop's marketing of their Gutedel but do not like to speak out for fear of loosing their deal with the Swiss market leader for wine. Luckily Red Baron is not concerned and hence could not care less. He rather follows Goethe's maxim: Das Leben ist viel zu kurz, um schlechten Wein zu trinken (Life is much too short to drink bad wine).

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