Winemakers outrage as overreaching EU forces ingredients lists onto bottles

EU rules are being brought in that will require wine producers to include additional information on bottles, such as ingredients and nutritional values. While the goal of the move is sold as a boost for consumer transparency not all of this data will be readily available.

In many cases, customers will need to use their smartphones to scan a QR code stuck to the bottle. Officially, the reason given is a lack of space on the bottle, though some producers are concerned that prominently displaying this information could discourage sales.

The law is likely to take time to be introduced as producers are not required to re-label previously bottled wines. There is also a grace period intended to give winegrowers time to raise specific concerns.

Some have questioned the logic of the move given wine is often produced to a ‘recipe’ and composition varies from year to year and between vintages.

Furthermore, it is a product that, once bottled, continues to change, particularly in terms of sugar content, posing a genuine challenge.

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A legal expert at the CAVB (Confederation of Burgundy Appellations and Winegrowers) Mélanie Grandguillaume said: “It could also be complicated for laboratories as they would have to be able to carry out studies in a very short space of time. This is not necessarily the case for everyone, and it could also become a major expense for the wineries, between the cost of the analyses and the regular updating of labels.”

Renew Europe MEP Irene Tolleret has also slammed the new labelling rules as a “senseless waste”.

Addressing the EU Parliament Tolleret said: “The new rules on digital wine labelling are too rigid.

“Let’s use common sense to avoid massive destruction of labels and unnecessary costs for producers. We’ve just voted in the Packaging Waste regulation, so let’s avoid senseless waste.”

In June, French wine exporters criticised Ireland’s proposal to require extensive health labelling on alcoholic beverages, which was approved by the European Commission in January 2023.

Wines and spirits sold in Ireland will be required to bear labels similar to those found on cigarette packs beginning May 22, 2026.

Irish Health Minister Stephen Donnelly expressed his delight at the European Commission’s approval, saying: “I am delighted that other countries are following our example.”

Nicolas Ozanam, General Delegate of the French Federation of Wines and Spirits Exports, FEVS, told EURACTIV France: “This measure represents a sharp break with the framework of the single market.”

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