The European Union has made several amendments to provisions relevant for the wine industry (L198 of 30 May 2023). This includes the labeling of ingredients and the packaging of sparkling wines. These provisions will enter into force on 8th December 2023.
From then on, it will be sufficient to list "grapes" in the ingredients, even if the producer used grape must as raw material instead of fresh grapes. This aligns with the goal of providing "harmonized, understandable, and clear consumer information".
Furthermore, substances approved for sweetening and enrichment are to be considered as ingredients and must be included in the list. Added sucrose or concentrated grape must has to be declared separately.
In addition, additives used to regulate the acidity or to stabilize the wine must be specified. The EU recognizes that wines might occasionally be introduced to additives when the labels have already been printed. Consequently, up to three substances from the categories of acidity regulators and stabilizers can be listed in the ingredients, even if only one is included in the final wine.
Substances that can trigger allergies or intolerances should also be labeled on wines, describing them with terms already prescribed by EU regulations for other foods.
The use of packaging gases like carbon dioxide, argon, or nitrogen can be declared by indicating that the wine was "Bottled in a protective atmosphere ". It is also permissible to say, "Bottling may happen in a protective atmosphere".
The dosage added to sparkling wines must be listed in the ingredients; optionally, the actual dosage ingredient can be specified in brackets, such as "grape must". This helps differentiate the dosage from enriching agents.
Grapevine products that have undergone a process of de-alcoholisation and have less than 10% alcohol in the end must show a date of minimum durability.
Sparkling wines now "uncapped"
The appearance of sparkling wines has also been redefined. While corks and wire cages should generally remain encased in foil, there's a notable exception: For operational reasons, like cost-cutting or reducing waste, producers and bottlers can choose to forgo this practice. However, precautions must be taken to ensure that the absence of the foil does not pose a security risk, such as unintentional opening or tampering with the wire cage.
The EU's decision is a reaction to efforts from multiple member states. For example, in Germany, the VDP-Winery Peter Lauer took legal action against wine authorities for not approving his sparkling wines without a capsule. Simultaneously, certain producers in Champagne are opting out of using the capsule. Emeline De Sloovere, a vintner at the De Sloovere-Pienne winery, prefers not to use capsules due to environmental and sustainability reasons and instead covers the bottle's closure with a paper label. (MS)