HomelabelsNew EU rules on wine labelling, guidelines from the European Commission

New EU rules on wine labelling, guidelines from the European Commission

On 8 December 2023, as we have seen, the new rules on wine labeling introduced by Regulation (EU) 2021/2117 (1,2) come into application. Better late than never – two weeks before time X – the European Commission has published guidelines on the subject, in the form of 'questions and answers'. (3)

1) Wine labelling, introduction

The 'marketing standards' relating to wines are currently defined in the Common Market Organization Regulation (EU) No 1308/2013 (CMO or CMO, Common Market Organisation), in addition to delegated regulations (EU) 2019/933, 2019/934.

The origin labeling and presentation of wines, in the absence of sector regulations, is subject to the general rules established in the Food Information Regulation (EU) No 1169/11 (FIR).

Nutrition declaration and ingredient list follow the criteria established in the FIR in articles 30-35 as well as 18,20,21.1,22, Annexes VI-VIII, without prejudice to what is established in OCM, articles 40,41,48 bis.

2) Mandatory information on the label and electronic label

Mandatory information which must be reported on the label or presented in electronic form are:

(i) designation of the category of wine products (including, where appropriate, the term 'de-alcoholised'/'partially de-alcoholised'). With the exception of what is provided for in the CMO, article 119.2, for certain wines with a protected designation of origin and protected geographical indication,

(ii) the terms 'protected designation of origin' (PDO) or 'protected geographical indication' (PGI) and the related name for PDO/PGI wines,

iii) actual alcoholic strength by volume,

iv) indication of origin,

v) name of the bottler or, for some product categories (4,5,6,7), the name of the producer or seller, if relevant,

vi) net content,

vii) sugar content in the case of sparkling wine categories (4,5,6,7),

viii) nutritional declaration,

ix) list of ingredients,

x) minimum shelf life for wine products subjected to dealcoholization treatment.

3) The list of ingredients

The list of ingredients it must be introduced by the word 'ingredients' and report the individual ingredients in decreasing order of weight (FIR, article 18). Residual ingredients that represent less than 2% of the weight of the product may be listed in a different order, after the main ingredients. All ingredients must be designated with their specific name.

The additives foodstuffs must be mentioned in the list of ingredients, via authorization code E... or specific name, preceded by the indication of their functional category. The only additives authorized in the production of wine are indicated in Delegated Regulation (EU) 2019/934, Annex I, part A, table 2.

3.1) Technological adjuvants

It's not mandatory vice versa, indicate the food additives and enzymes used as technological aids, without prejudice to the duty to expressly mention the substances that can cause allergies or intolerances (FIR, article 9).

Allergens must always be easily visible to the consumer. With graphic evidence - i.e. different font, size, colour, style, background - compared to the other ingredients (EU regulation 1169/11, art. 21.1).

If the list of the ingredients is supplied via e-label, the indication of allergens must be preceded by the words 'contains' (EU regulation 2019/33, articles 42, 48-bis.4, Annex I).

3.2) Enrichment substances

Enrichment substances admitted in the production of wines, please note, are 'concentrated grape must', 'rectified concentrated grape must' and 'sucrose' (CMO, Annex VII, part 1).

The ingredients list – in contrast to the transparency declared by the European Commission (4) – can also be compiled using:

  • designation of musts, including rectified, with the name of the category 'concentrated grape must' (part A),
  • indication of 'sucrose', i.e. sugar, is optional only. Without prejudice to the obligation, in this case, to indicate this item separately. However, all types of sucrose can be designated as 'sugar'.

4) 'Bottled in a protective atmosphere'

In defiance of clarity requirements and non-ambiguity of information to the consumer (EU regulation 1169/11, articles 7,36), the wording 'Bottled in a protective atmosphere' can be replaced with 'it can be bottled in a protective atmosphere' (EU regulation 2019/33, article 48-bis. 6). One of these indications is always mandatory, if the wines are stored in a modified atmosphere, without the obligation to specify the names of the gases used.

5) Nutrition declaration

The nutrition declaration follows the instructions contained in the regulation. EU 1169/11 (FIR), article 34. It must therefore be presented in tabular form - with the items placed in a vertical list and the numbers aligned - unless the label is small in size, in which case it is possible to use the linear format. This last hypothesis obviously does not apply to e-labels.

The order of nutritional values in turn follows the general rules. Energy value (kJ, kcal), fats (of which saturated), carbohydrates (of which sugars), proteins, salt (intended as sodium equivalent). (5) If the value of one or more elements is equal to zero, the relevant entry or entries may be replaced by the wording 'contains negligible quantities of (…)'.

5.1) Nutritional values, calculation criteria

Nutritional values they are average values ​​established by:

  • analysis of the food carried out by the producer (a choice that should be favoured, taking into account the variations linked to the fermentation processes), or
  • known or actual average values ​​for the ingredients used, or
  • calculation carried out starting from generally established and accepted data (FIR, art. 31).

The energy value it must be calculated using the conversion coefficients set out in Annex XIV to Regulation (EU) 1169/11 and presented first in kilojoules (kJ), then in kilocalories (kcal). The energy and nutritional values ​​must always be expressed per 100 ml of product, in the case of drinks (FIR, article 32.2).

6) Field of vision and visibility

Nutrition declaration and list of ingredients they must appear in the same field of vision as the other mandatory indications (with the sole exception of the batch code, which may be reported elsewhere) and be able to be read simultaneously without having to rotate the container (EU regulation 2019/33, article 40.1).

The characters they must be indelible and clearly distinguishable from all other written indications and drawings. Their size must be equal to or greater than 1,2 mm, regardless of the format used (EU regulation 2019/33, article 40.3). (6)

7) Entry into force

'As a general rule, these new mandatory indications must apply to wines placed on the market from the respective date of application provided for in Regulation (EU) 2021/2117, i.e. 8 December 2023. Wines 'produced' before that date may, however, continue to be placed on the market according to the applicable labeling requirements before 8 December 2023, while stocks last'.

The European Commission thus assumes the power (not granted to it) to suggest a derogation (without legal value) to a European regulation. Then citing a further extension of its terms of application, since a wine is considered 'produced' not only after the conclusion of fermentation, but also following the implementation of certain oenological practices.

They report back so the examples of:

– wine (category 1). It is the product obtained exclusively from the total or partial alcoholic fermentation of fresh grapes, pressed or not, or grape must. The wine must have reached the required alcoholic strength and acidity content, as indicated in Annex VII, Part II, point 1 of the CMO Regulation,

- sparkling wine (category 4). If produced by second alcoholic fermentation, the wine can be considered to have been 'produced' only after the second fermentation has taken place and the product has reached the alcoholic strength and overpressure conditions set out in Annex VII, Part II of the CMO regulation.

In vino veritas?

Dario Dongo and Alessandra Mei


(1) Dario Dongo. Wines, nutritional values ​​and ingredients list in sight, but not too much. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade).

(2) Dario Dongo, Giorgio Perrone. De-alcoholised wines, new EU rules and high growth potential. The ABC. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade).

(3) Commission Notice – Questions and answers on the implementation of new EU wine labeling provisions following the amendment of Regulation (EU) No 1308/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council and Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2019/33. C/2023/1190 https://tinyurl.com/2hu5y7v6

(4) Dario Dongo, Marta Singed. Wine, sugar revealed. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade).

(5) Dario Dongo. Nutrition declaration on the label. The ABC's of EU rules. DO (Food and Agriculture Requirements).

(6) The visibility of the characters of the mandatory information on the wine label, it should be noted, is thus lower than that established for the labeling of general foods and drinks, where only in this last case the minimum height of 1,2 mm refers to the letter 'x'. See the article cited in note 5

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Dario Dongo, lawyer and journalist, PhD in international food law, founder of WIISE (FARE - GIFT - Food Times) and Égalité.

Alessandra Mei
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Graduated in Law from the University of Bologna, she attended the Master in Food Law at the same University. You participate in the WIISE srl benefit team by dedicating yourself to European and international research and innovation projects.

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