United States Mission to the European Union
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Last modified: December 12, 2017

Wine labeling

General | US-EU Wine Agreement


Commission Regulation 607/2009 lays down detailed rules on protected designations of origin and geographical indications, traditional terms and labeling.

Chapter II of Regulation 607/2009 establishes the application procedure for a designation of origin or a geographical indication.  Designation of origin or geographical indications which have been accepted are entered in a “Register of protected designations of origin and protected geographical indications” maintained by the European Commission.  The register is available through the Commission’s online “E-Bacchus” database.

Chapter III of Regulation 607/2009 sets out rules on the use of traditional terms.  The “E-Bacchus” database lists the traditional terms that are protected in the EU.  The use of expressions such as “style”, “type”, “method`’, “as produced in”, “imitation”, “flavor”, “like” or similar, accompanied by a traditional term included in the E-Bacchus database is not allowed.  Third countries may use traditional terms not listed in the database.

Chapter IV of Regulation 607/2009 sets out rules for the indication of compulsory and optional information on wine labels.  The mandatory information must appear in the same field of vision on the container, in such a way that all the information (except the lot number) is readable without having to turn the container.  The mandatory information must be clearly distinguishable from surrounding text or graphics.

The indication of the wine grape variety on the label is optional.  For third country wines, the wine grape variety must be included in at least one of the lists established by the “international Organization of Vine and Wine (OIV), the “Union for the Protection of Plant Varieties (UPOV)” or the “International Board for Plant Genetic Resources (IBPGR)”.  Terms such as “barrel matured”, “barrel aged” (listed in Annex XVI to Regulation 607/2009) may not be used on wines produced with the aid of oak chips.

For detailed information see GAIN Report “EU Wine Policy” (published December 2016) and GAIN Report E49061 “New EU wine labeling rules”.

Allergen Labeling

The allergen labeling requirements set out in the EU’s “Food Information to Consumers” (FIC) Regulation 1169/2011 also apply to alcoholic beverages.  Ingredients which may trigger an allergic reaction must be indicated using the word “contains” followed by the name of the substance or product as listed in Annex II to the FIC regulation.  Alcoholic beverages with sulphite concentrations of more than 10 mg/liter must use one of the following terms: “sulphites”, “sulfites”, “sulphur dioxide” or “sulfur dioxide”.   The indication of sulphites may be accompanied by the pictogram included in Annex X to Regulation 607/2009.  Replacing the word “sulphites” by “SO2” or the E-number (E220) is not allowed.  Wines fined with casein and ovalbumin must also be labeled for allergens.  Allergen labeling must respect the minimum font size (1.2 mm) requirement set out in FIC Regulation 1169/2011.  Member States decide in which language(s) allergens should be indicated on the label.

GAIN Report “How to comply with the EU’s new food labeling rules” (published December 2014).

Organic Wine

With Commission Implementing Regulation 203/2012, EU legislation now also covers wine.  This new regulation that applies starting August 1, 2012, allows the use of the term “organic wine” where before the label could only mention “wine made from organic grapes”.  Regulation 203/2012 sets out the conditions to label wine as organic.  Sorbic acid and desulfurication are not allowed and the level of sulfites must be at least 30-50 mg per liter lower than their conventional equivalent.

US-EU Wine Agreement

In March 2006, the U.S. and the EU and the U.S. signed the “Agreement between the United States and the European Community on Trade in Wine” which addresses a number of issues such as labeling and certification.  The Agreement covers wine with an actual alcohol content of not less than 7% and not more than 22%.  All U.S. wine imports must be accompanied by certification and analysis documentation using the format specified in Annex III (a) to the Agreement.  More information on the simplified EU import certificate form can be obtained from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau at http://www.ttb.gov/industry_circulars/archives/2007/07-02.html.  The Agreement’s “Protocol on Wine Labeling” sets conditions for the use of optional particulars on wine labels.  Commission Regulation 1416/2006, as amended by Commission Implementing Regulation 1212/2011, concerns the protection of U.S. names of origin in the EU.   Information on the US-EU Wine Agreement can also be obtained from the U.S. Dept. of the Treasury – Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.