UK vineyards: Brief summary of wine regulations

Changes in Wine Regulations for UK Wine producers.

Regulations 1234/2007 and 607/2009 introduced some changes to wine making requirements and labelling of wines. In addition they make provision for a new category of wine allowed to show one or more varieties and the vintage.

Wine making practices

Enrichment limits

The reduced enrichment limit permitted from 2009 harvest onwards is 3% increase in total alcohol (with the possibility of an additional 0.5% in poor years if requested by the industry and approved by the European Commission).

The minimum actual alcohol remains 8.5% vol for wine without geographical designation, in effect the minimum natural alcoholic strength is now 5.5% unless the additional 0.5% enrichment has been allowed. The maximum total alcohol level for enriched wines remains 11.5% for white wine and 12% for red and rosé wine. The maximum level does not apply to Quality Wine (PDO).

Sulphur dioxide maximum limits

From 2009 harvest the maximum levels for total sulphur dioxide are

  • red wines 150mg/litre
  • white and rosé wines 200mg/litre (higher levels for wines with 5+grms/litre residual sugar as set out in Oenological Practices Regulation 606/2009).
  • quality sparkling wine 185mg/litre (unchanged)

Sweetening

Requirements for sweetening wines have been altered and there is no differentiation in sweetening provisions between enriched and non-enriched wines. The total (actual + potential) alcoholic strength of wines may not be increased by more than 4% vol. The maximum total alcoholic strength remains 15%, except for Quality Wines (PDO category) which have not been enriched.

Labelling

New labelling requirements

Wines which were labelled before 31 December 2010 in compliance with requirements in force before 1 August 2009 may be marketed until used up.

Provenance of Wine

Wines without geographical designation are allowed to show country as 'Wine of England (or Wales)' or 'Product of England' or 'Produced in England' instead of 'Wine of United Kingdom' or equivalent. Other wines (Quality, Regional and sparkling) must also use one of these formats for the country.

Descriptor 'wine'

The description 'Wine' must be shown as the category for wine without geographical designation where the Provenance descriptor does not include the term 'Wine'.

Varietal Wine – new designation

Wines from 2009 and subsequent vintages which are not submitted and approved for either the Protected Designation of Origin (Quality Wine) Scheme or the Protected Geographical Indication (Regional Wine) Scheme may be entitled to describe one or more varieties and/or the vintage using the new descriptor of 'Varietal Wine' (subject to national legislation) if they go through a Certification Process prior to sale of the wine. Varietal Wine certification forms are available from the UKVA and must be submitted to the UKVA. These are passed on to Wine Standards Inspectors who may visit producers to check that records show details of production for wine intended for this category.

Certification forms for Varietal Wine are available from the UKVA.

Quality and Regional Wine Schemes

The Schemes cover Protected Designation of Origin (Quality Wine) and Protected Geographical Indication (Regional Wine) and have been expanded to include sparkling wine. Details of both Schemes are available on the UKVA website.

Labelling advice on still wine and sparkling wine is available on the FSA website wine labelling guidance page, can be found below.

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