A shopper reading the ingredients list on the label of a wine bottle

2023: new rules for wine labelling

The wine labelling reform: what’s going to change

The overhaul of the CAP has triggered a wind of change in wine labelling. In accordance with regulation 2021/2117 published on 2 December 2021, producers must now indicate the list of ingredients and nutritional information. These new rules come into effect on 8 December 2023: the race against time has begun!

Wine labelling: a new challenge

Up until now, wine was not subject to the same obligation as food products to display on the label its additives, allergens and nutritional information. Consumer associations latched onto the subject and pointed out the importance of providing clear and accurate information to customers.

Result: following several years of negotiations, Europe has introduced a major reform of alcoholic drinks labelling. This applies to all bottles sold in the European Union, thereby harmonising the rules across all countries.  

Good to know

To avoid misinterpretation, theEuropean regulation N°1169/2011 is very clear on the definition of an ingredient. It specifies that “ingredient” means “any substance or product [contained in the wine], including flavourings, food additives and food enzymes, or any constituent of a compound ingredient.” The latter must have been used to make the wine and still be present in the finished product, even in an altered form. It can be noted that residues are not considered as ingredients.

About the U-Label digital platform

Homepage of the U-Label wine bottle electronic labelling platform

To facilitate the process, the labelling can be digitalised. Subject to certain conditions, producers will thus have the opportunity to use an e-label, but must nonetheless indicate any allergens and the energy value on the bottle in print.

The CEEV presented the U-Label platform at a SITEVI talk. This platform is open to all wine and spirit companies wishing to use electronic labelling aimed at consumers in the EU.

In practice, the e-label takes the form of a QR code generated for each bottle and printed on the label. The consumer then simply scans the code and is redirected to a web page where they can consult all the information in their own language:

Les données nutritionnelles,

  • Nutritional date,
  • Serving advice,
  • List of ingredients, 
  • Sustainability initiatives.

Takeaways

The e-label cannot contain any commercial information. It can be accessed directly from the bottle and is by no means used to track the consumer. This label is translated automatically into the 24 languages of the European Union.

To use the U-Label platform, several subscription options exist depending on the number of labels to be generated, with prices starting at €250 per year.

The secretary general of CEEV, Ignacio Sánchez Recarte, invites all operators in the wine sector to start their procedures as quickly as possible so as to not miss the implementation deadline.

Wine labelling: what consumers think

 

What impact will this new labelling have on consumers?The association Oenoppia surveyed 11,000 people in 10 countries who drink wine at least once a month. The survey had four aims:

 

·        Understand consumers’ knowledge of wine

·        Assess the impact of labelling on the image of a wine and purchasing intent,

·        Estimate the acceptability of the list of ingredients depending on the content,

·        Understand the acceptability of the various ingredients stated.

 

For a wine they know and appreciate, 46 of consumers say that their opinion will not change following the introduction of labelling. 62% would probably buy this wine again. And when faced with a new wine that they have yet to discover, 47% of respondents said that they would be prepared to buy it even if the label mentioned that the wine contains sulphites.

Overall, the general trend that emerges from this survey is one of uncertainty. Consumers do not reject the label, but still find it difficult to clearly express a view. Nevertheless, they appear to be reassured by the transparency, provided that the list of ingredients is short. Additives with a “chemical” connotation are less well-accepted at first sight, but explaining why they are needed can help solve the problem

Winegrowers have little more than a year left to comply with the new European regulation. Starting today, they can opt to display their information on the label, develop their own system or join the U-Label collective platform.