Pilot sticker lands French wine with Swedish ban

Pilot sticker lands French wine with Swedish ban
The Swedish state alcohol-monopoly has banned a French wine from its shelves because the label shows a pilot in action, prompting the importer of the "Flying Solo" wine to appeal the ban.

“We don’t see how a person drinking this wine would want to go fly a plane from the 1930s, nor how it would encourage anyone to slip into the cockpit,” the wine importer wrote in a lengthy email exchange with regulators at the state alcohol sellers Systembolaget.

But Systembolaget referred to guidelines from the Swedish Consumer Protection Agency (Konsumentverket).

“Marketing cannot in its design conjure associations with situations where alcohol consumption is inadvisable, such as traffic, sports or work,” the representative wrote.

Nor did Systembolaget find the label’s historic context relevant – that pilots in the 1930s had used the Gayda vineyard’s unusually tall signature tree as a landmark when they navigated south from Toulouse to deliver post to Spain, and even further afield in North America and in Latin America.

Whether the name ‘Flying Solo’ or its slogan “a taste of freedom” acted against the wine in the Systembolaget verdict is unclear.

The wine importer responded to the ban by sending images of other wines with labels that he thought should also be prohibited according to the letter of the law.

The Australian shiraz Fox Creek shows a fox flying high in the sky in a propeller plane. But Systembolaget said the drawing was too clearly fictional to pose a problem.

He also sent along an image of a chardonnay, where the label depicts a woman in turn-of-the-century garb astride a bicycle – seemingly qualifying as “sport” in the consumer agency directive.

Systembolaget was not swayed by the pastoral scene.

“To cycle on an empty meadow is not the same as delivering post by plane,” the Systembolaget representative wrote in defence of its judgement.

If the Alcohol Products Committee (Alkoholsortimentsnämnden) at Sweden’s Legal, Financial and Administrative Services Agency (Kammarkollegiet) upholds the ban, the importer will have to relabel the bottles in order to get them sold.

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