Unit 10 – Self Directed Project: Brief 2 – Wine Labels & The Rules

Wikipedia – Wine Label HERE

Wine labels are important sources of information for consumers since they tell the type and origin of the wine. The label is often the only resource a buyer has for evaluating the wine before purchasing it. Certain information is ordinarily included in the wine label, such as the country of origin, quality, type of wine, alcoholic degree, producer, bottler, or importer.

Scratch & Sniff wine label! Great idea.

Sweetness of Wines

Degree of sweetness information is particularly inconsistent, with some countries’ manufacturers always indicating it in standardized fashion in their language (brut, dolce, etc.), some traditionally not mentioning it at all or referring to it informally and vaguely in a rear-label description, and yet other countries’ regulators requiring such information to be included (commonly on a secondary label) even when such information has to be added by the importer. In certain cases of conflicting regulations, a wine may, for example, even be labelled “sweet” by a manufacturer, but also “semi-sweet” (as per a different law) in the local language translation on a supplementary label mandated by the jurisdiction where it is sold.

Misleading Information

Labels may include terms that may be perceived as misleading. The term Blanc de blancs may be included in a label. This term means “white wine made from white grapes”. The fact is that white wines are predominantly made from white grapes, with the exception of many sparkling wines, the common use of the red Pinot noir in Champagne wines being a typical example.

Although the word château is most associated with Bordeaux, it does not mean that the wine does come from Bordeaux, and there may not be any kind of building – let alone a château – associated with the vineyard. The name château can even be included in wines from Australia or California. Labels of Vin de pays never include the word château.[1]

Cru, a word used to classify wines can mean different things. For example, in the Médoc part of Bordeaux, this terms means the château is one of the classified growths in the regions. In Saint-Émilion, the term cru is of little importance because it bears little relation to quality. For Provence the term cru classé is included only for historical reasons. On the other hand, the use of the term cru in Switzerland has no foundation and it is included at the producer’s discretion.[1]

Food Standards Agency – HERE

Regulations in the Wine sector:

3. Labelling

specific mandatory items must be shown, in one field of vision. These include nominal volume (eg 75cl), alcoholic strength (eg 11.5% vol), bottler’s details, country of origin, type of wine. In addition a statement about the sulphur dioxide content will be required on any label when this exceeds 10mg/litre.
specified optional items may also be shown on certain types of wine, eg vine variety, vintage. Further information may be shown, providing it does not conflict with mandatory or specified optional details and that there is no risk of confusion
Labelling provisions are included in EU Regulations 479/2008 and 607/2009(legally 479/2008 has now been replaced by 491/2009 amending the Single Market Regulation 1234/2007)

EU Wine Labelling Regulations

I continue to be amazed at the lack of compliance with EU legislation of wine labels marketed to the UK. And that is even on wines produced and bottled within the EU itself. I have seen several bottles of Spanish wine that are non compliant.In these days of budget cuts it is easier for the governmental authorities to generate fines than to raise taxes or cut expenditure. So don’t inadvertently become a major contributor to balancing the UK’s budget.

Wine for Spice: Rani Gold Back Label

The simplest things to spot on labels are:

(a) the size of the Alcohol % number, and
(b) the size of the Volume of liquid in the bottles.
That is the 11.5% and 75 cl on the label.

The Alcohol number must be at least 3mm.

The Volume must be at least 4mm.

Or is it the other way round?
Best on the safe side for wine in bottles from 37.5 cl to 75 cl to have both Alcohol and Volume numbers at 4mm.

4mm high minimum requirement. Too small.

And beware of your label designer’s elaborate choice of font. Some fonts don’t have all the digits of the same size. So the smallest font perhaps the zero, counts for the minimum size.  Stick to a simple font with all the digits the same size.

And these are EU wide rules. There are no exemptions except for very small or large bottles.
Nominal Volume in litres, centilitres or millilitres & expressed in figures
e.g. 75cl, 375ml

i)  3mm high if equal to or less than 20cl
ii) 4mm high if equal to or less than
100cl., but greater than 20cl.
iii) 6mm if nominal volume exceeds 100cl.

3mm high minimum requirement. Just right.

Alcohol content phrase must be shown as whole or half unit e.g. XX%vol. or XX.5%vol. So 11.5% is

Min height
i) 2 mm : 20cl or less
ii) 3mm : over 20cl-100cl
iii) : 5mm over 100c

As for sweetness by way of Residual Sugar level these are well defined. “Dry” isn’t something you can add to a label because you think it sells well. there are rules for this. See my earlier blog post: “Not such a Brut”
As I said don’t by casualness fund the UK’s borrowing requirement by paying large fines.
Read the legislation as simplified by the UK Food Standards Agency.
And as it happens I fully agree with the legislation. There is far too much small print in the financial world. Let’s keep it out of wine labels.
………. Warren EDWARDES …………


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