New requirements in EU wine labelling regulations

A guide for wineries and exporters

by Nathan Anderson

New EU wine label requirements will start to be enforced from 8 December, 2023. A new document, C(2023)3257, published 30 May, 2023 includes new requirements and clarifications relevant to winemakers selling in the EU. In this second instalment of his series explaining the new labelling requirements, Scantrust co-founder and CEO Nathan Anderson, provides valuable insights for wine exporters.

Many winemakers who sell wine in Europe are busy preparing for compliance with regulation (EU) 2021/2117 and several other regulations related to wine labelling. Regulation EU 2021/2117 requires nutrition, energy, and allergen information to be disclosed on wine sold in the EU starting 8 December, 2023.

An update to the laws, 2023/3257, was published on 30 May, 2023. Notable changes include:

  • Clarification on where allergens and intolerances can be displayed;
  • Clarifications related to additives that vary from bottle to bottle including packaging gases; and
  • There are new rules for wines less than 10% ABV and less than 0.5% ABV.

Read onward for more information on each of the above and some other, new, information in 2023/3257.

Clarification on how to disclose additives regardless of variations from one bottle to another

Winemakers frequently use different additives in different batches of the same wine, often late in the process after labels have already been printed and applied.

Considering this, the new regulation takes a sympathetic stance regarding listing of ingredients and additives, a complete list of which can be found in article 48a of regulation (EU)2019/33. Because it is impractical to track and disclose each and every additive used in each and every bottle of wine, the new regulation requires that the ingredient list for a product include an exhaustive list of additives that could potentially be used in the winemaking process.

Put another way, it’s acceptable from the perspective of the law that additives listed on a label may not be actually present in the wine of that bottle.

Among the sub-category of additives ‘acidity regulators’ and ‘stabilising agents’, requirements are more specific. Regulators and stabilisers need to be listed using the expression “contains… and/or”, followed by no more than three additives. At least one of those additives listed is expected to be present in the final product.

Among the sub-category ‘packaging gases’, such as carbon dioxide, argon, and nitrogen which do not become a part of the product consumed, these may be omitted from the ingredient list if the producer uses either of the following statements:

  1. ‘Bottled in a protective atmosphere’
  2. ‘Bottling may happen in a protective atmosphere’

Field of vision: an update on where allergens and intolerances can be displayed

Allergens and intolerances are required to be printed on the product label regardless of whether you are using electronic labels or not.

If you’re using an electronic label to disclose nutrition and ingredients, allergens and intolerances must be included there as well.

The original regulation provides guidance on where these compulsory particulars are expected on wine sold in the EU. The “field of vision” is a simple but important concept in this matter and it is explained in regulation EU 2019/33 as anything that is legible without the need to turn the package or bottle. This latest regulation states that the following items, while compulsory, can be listed outside the field of vision:

  1. Substances or products causing allergies or intolerances (referred to in article 9(1), point (c), of regulation (EU) No 1169/2011)
  2. The indication of the importer;
  3. The lot number;
  4. The date of minimum durability;

It’s important to understand that while these are allowed outside the field of vision, they are still required on the label or attached to the wine bottle.

Image: The concept of “field of vision” is important for wine labelling, even if you choose to use convenient electronic labels for compulsory particulars.

Distinct rules applicable to grapevine products with less than 10% alcohol by volume

For wines that have been de-alcoholised to less than 10%, regulation (EU) 2021/2117 states:

  • The minimum product durability must be stated;
  • Wines with less than half a percent of alcohol by volume must use the term “de-alcoholised”; and
  • Wines above a half percent of alcohol by volume must use the term “partially de-alcoholised”.

A start date for the above requirements was not specified in regulation (EU) 2021/2117.

The new regulation finalised on 30 May, 2023 requires that the declaration of the minimum product durability, or expiration date, is mandatory for wines that have an ABV less than 10% starting on 8 December, 2023.

Rules related to the United Kingdom are no longer relevant

There were some designation rules that were previously specified in Delegated Regulation (EU) 2019/33 that have become irrelevant due to the fact that the UK is no longer in the EU. Any particulars that assumed the UK as part of the EU simply aren’t relevant anymore.

Amendments related to some designations of origin

Clear statements about changes to designation of origin rules for wine product labels are finalised with this regulation. For example, Pedro Ximénez vine variety derived wines are stated to be allowed to include those wines from the ‘Condado de Huelva’, ‘Málaga’, ‘Jerez-Xérès-Sherry’, and ‘Montilla-Moriles’ regions. The purpose of this change is explained as necessary to clear up overlapping and conflicting information found in Article 5(3) of Delegated Regulation (EU) 2019/33 and Delegated Regulation (EU) 2019/934 by updating and amending Article 5(3) of Delegated Regulation (EU) 2019/33.

In summary, the major change is stating that the relevant protected origin provenance also includes ‘Condado de Huelva’. While this information is particularly important for those companies that produce, bottle, and sell liqueur wines with origin in the mentioned regions, it is worth noting that this information is not particularly relevant for wineries in all other regions.

What’s the most important thing about the EU wine labelling regulations?

Winemakers will find it in their best interest to begin or continue preparations of their wines for the new law’s implementation as soon as possible. The new regulations are effective and enforceable from 8 Dec, 2023, to be administered by the respective regulators in each member state in accordance with EU 1306/2013 Chapter IV, Article 89.

The most important thing is that compliance can be a smooth and straightforward process if you’re working with an experienced software solution provider who closely follows the regulation and who is committed to helping you navigate it successfully.

Further information can be found at Scantrust.