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Wine Labeling in UK

This page gives you some background to Wine labeling in the UK, brief guidance on the key aspects of the laws relating to the wine trade.


European Council and Commission Wine Regulations apply in every EU Member State

How European and UK wine laws are applied

  • The whole market in wine from the harvesting of grapes to the sale of wine to the final consumer.
  • The EC support system and
  • Arrangements for the importation of wine into the Community from other (Third) Countries.

The Commission also issues Directives and Notices on general matters covering wine including where appropriate:

  • Lists of the responsible (competent) authorities designated by the Member States for enforcement and liaison purposes and
  • Lists of authorized laboratories in third (non-EU) countries that can issue official certificates (VI 1 cecertificateto accompany exports of wine to the European Union.

Which Regulations apply in the UK

While European Regulations automatically become law in the UK, the practical application of this law in terms of interpretation, enforcement responsibilities, powers of enforcement officers, offenses and penalties etc. is introduced by a UK Statutory Instrument (S.I.). The current UK Statutory Instrument is The Wine Regulations 2011 S.I No 2936 ( as amended by SI 2013 No 3235).

The Department of the Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has the responsibility for drawing up, consulting on and laying Statutory Instruments relating to wine before Parliament.  Defra consults relevant industry and government bodies, referred to as “stakeholders”.  In the case of wine matters, this includes industry bodies such as The United Kingdom Vineyard Association, The English Wine Producers’ Group and The Wine and Spirit Trade Association. The Food Standards Agency is the competent authority responsible for enforcing the wine regulations at the import, bottling, UK production and wholesale distribution stages within the UK. Defra, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and local authorities are also enforcement agencies with the latter being responsible for all enforcement in the retail sector.

As well as listing the EU wine regulations that apply in the UK the S.I also details the UK Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) and Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) schemes. Regulations in the wine sector: some aspects of the law – *It should be noted that some regulations mentioned in this guidance and elsewhere are awaiting amendment at EU level as they still refer to Regulation 479/2008  which has been replaced by regulation 1308/2013. Regulation (EU) No 1308/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013 establishing a common organization of the markets in agricultural products and repealing Council Regulations (EEC) No 922/72, (EEC) No 234/79, (EC) No 1037/2001 and (EC) No 1234/2007 (CMO Regulation)

This regulation outlines the system for the control of twenty-fours specified agricultural sector products, including wine. Broadly regulation 1308/2013 encompasses:-

  • Market Intervention
  • Rules concerning Marketing and Production
  • Protected Designations of Origin and Protected Geographical Indications.
  • Trade with Third Countries
  • Competition Rules Many parts of this regulation are not relevant for wine, but it is still regarded as the umbrella regulation for wine it
  • Establishes the requirement for the certain Member States to maintain a Vineyard Register
  •  Provides for classification of grape varieties and vine planting authorizations
  • Outlines the “wine growing zones” and places certain restrictions on winemaking practices  in those zones(e.g. enrichmentacidificationde-acidification) • specifies the Compulsory particulars that must appear on labels
  • Specifies the type of optional information that can be used
  • Specifies the need for accompanying documents
  • Importantly, in Annex VII Part 2, lists the definitions for different categories of grapevine products and Article 117 sets out the mandatory labeling requirements for still and sparkling wines, semi-sparkling wines, and liqueur wines.
  • Additionally, in  Annex 1 Part XII of the regulation details the wine sector products and the applicable Customs Codes (CN codes) covered by the regime The regulations mentioned below clarify and add more detailed requirements to the measures outlined in 1308/2013.

Commission Regulation (EC) No 555/2008* of 27 June 2008 laying down detailed rules for implementing Council Regulation (EC) No 479/2008 on the common organisation of the market in wine as regards support programmes, trade with third countries, production potential and on controls in the wine sector Importantly for wine importers Article 40 of this regulation sets out the requirement for a VI1 document ( a certificate of origin and analysis issued in the Third Country of origin) for imports of non-EU wine  and the responsibilities of control authorities in Member States.

Wine labelling in UK

Article 42 of the regulation exempts some small consignments for trade fairs and for private use by travelers and private individuals from the need for a VI 1 certificate. However, most commercial imports of wine will require a VI 1 certificate.

A VI 1 certificate is required for imports of wine where the total consignment exceeds 100 liters. It should be noted that this limit relates to the total consignment quantity and not to each smaller batch of wine within a grouped consignment. So, if a consignment consists of several smaller consignments (groupage) but exceeds 100 liters in total than a separate VI 1 certificate will be needed for each of the wines forming part of the overall consignment. The VI 1certificate must be issued by an EU approved laboratory situated in the exporting country.

The EU maintains lists of approved laboratories in each country. A simplified certificate is accepted from USA, Australia, and Chile. Commission Regulation (EC) No 436/2009* of 26 May 2009 laying down detailed rules for the application of Council Regulation (EC) No 479/2008 as regards the vineyard register, compulsory declarations and the gathering of information to monitor the wine market, the documents accompanying consignments of wine products and the wine sector registers to be kept This regulation specifies:

  • The details that  need to be included on the Vineyard Register,
  • The need for harvest and production declarations to be submitted,
  • The accompanying documents and records to be used for the transport of grapes and wines,
  • The records of winemaking processes to be kept. Documentation provisions overlap with fiscal documentation required by customs authorities for dutiable goods. All vineyards above 0.1ha in size (or any smaller size if used commercially) and any new plantings at existing vineyards must be registered with the Agency within 6 months of planting. Growers are required to submit annual harvest declarations to the Agency and similarly. Producers must submit annual Production Declarations. These and the information held on the Vineyard Register help to provide traceability to underpin the UK wine schemes.

Commission Regulation (EC) No 606/2009* of 10 July 2009 laying down certain detailed rules for implementing Council Regulation (EC) No 479/2008 as regards the categories of grapevine products, oenological practices, and the applicable restrictions This regulation specifies:-

  • The authorized winemaking practices and processes that may be used (e.g. sweetening, alcohol reduction etc.) Lists of the approved processes and any applicable constraints are shown in the Annexes
  • Expands on definitions for certain categories of wine, notably sparkling and Liqueur wines.
  • Controls the maximum levels of sulfur dioxide and volatile acidity levels in wine
  • Controls on blending and coupage and specific restrictions preventing the coupage of third-country wines within the Union. For producers in the U.K, de-acidification and enrichment of wines are subject to permitted limits and these processes must be notified to the Agency.

The producer must keep accurate winery records detailing all winemaking processes and subsequent bottling records.  Such details must be recorded promptly. Winery records and accompanying documents must be kept for at least five years. Commission Regulation (EC) No 607/2009* of 14 July 2009 laying down certain detailed rules for the implementation of Council Regulation (EC) No 479/2008* as regards protected designations of origin and geographical indications, traditional terms, labeling and presentation of certain wine sector products.  The regulation specifies the format and sizes for the compulsory particulars that must appear on a label. This regulation provides detailed wine labeling rules and annual verification requirements for specified categories of wines.

Compulsory particulars Specific mandatory information must be shown in one field of vision and must be capable of being easily read without having to turn or rotate the container. These include:-

  • The provenance expression  e.g. country of origin
  • For wines with Protected Designation of Origin or Protected Geographical Indication the relevant expression unless this is replaced by an approved Traditional Expression
  • Type of wine category (e.g. wine, sparkling wine)
  • The nominal volume (e.g. 75cl),
  • The alcoholic strength (shown to zero or point five of a percent (e.g. 11.5% vol) apart from wines from Australia and Switzerland where 0.1% increments may be used.
  • The bottler's  details for still wine and the producer’s  or vendor’s details for sparkling wine
  • In the case of sparkling wines the product type e.g. Brut. In addition, the following mandatory particulars must appear but they may be in a different field of vision
  • An allergens warning statement if the sulfur dioxide content exceeds 10mg/liter andor if milk or egg residues exceed 0.25mg/l. This statement must be at least 1.2mm high (based on the height of the lower case “x” of the font being used.)

Further information regarding the wine labeling of allergenic ingredients in wine can be found here

  • Importer details for third country (non-EU) wine. Note only one importer must be shown although it is possible to list distributors in the other Member States.
  • A lot number The EU labeling regulations are complicated but you can obtain further advice by following this link  and by contacting our Wine Inspectors. Whilst there is currently no legal requirement to show UK units or UK health warnings, we strongly encourage these and other approved messages about responsible consumption to be shown on wine labels. Please see the labeling guidelines issued by the Portman Group

Optional information

Certain optional items such as the color andor style of the wine may be shown automatically. However, as strange as it may seem, the vintage and grape variety may only be shown on Protected Designation of Origin (PDO), Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) and certified Varietal wines. Certain traditional expressions may be shown if the wine meets the requirements for their use. Further information may be shown providing

  • it does not conflict with the mandatory information or specified optional details,
  • there is no misuse of protected traditional terms or other protected expressions and
  • there is no risk of confusion to the consumer.

Regulation (EU) No 251/2014

This covers the definition, description, presentation, labeling and the protection of geographical indications of aromatized wine products i.e those products made from wine with added natural flavorings and coloring including vermouth, sangria.

The majority of the labeling  requirements for Aromatised wine products are covered by the Food  Information for Consumers  regulations which fall within the remit of Trading Standards FSA Wine Inspectors will normally only become involved if these products (and other non-wine food products such as Reduced alcohol wine based drinks) use protected wine terms or are labeled in such a way as to confuse the consumer into thinking the products are normal wine.

Bilateral agreements

These are formal agreements between the EU and Third (non-EU) countries which provide more flexibility for those countries. The agreements can cover a whole range of industrial and agricultural matters including customs tariffs etc. From a wine perspective, they will include recognition of the country’s winemaking practices and recognition and protection of any traditional terms and Geographical Indications listed in the agreement. In return, the third country agrees to protect EU traditional terms and protected designations of origin etc.

The EU currently has agreements with Chile, Australia, South Africa, Canada, Switzerland and the USA. It is not practicable to list all the details of each bilateral agreement here. Any trader wishing to import wine from these countries should contact the Regional Inspector for the area where they are based if they need further advice.

Read more about Wine Labelling in the UK