Argentine wine producers have been granted a stay of execution over their right to sell wines in the European Union (EU) containing malic acid.

The acid, which is used to correct acidity, is currently banned in EU wine production.

The European Commission has long been seeking a comprehensive wine agreement with Argentina covering wine making practices. The EU Council of Ministers has now given both sides until January 2009 to strike a deal, before a ban on sales of Argentine wines containing malic acid theoretically comes into force.

Such an agreement is unlikely without a wider deal on food and drink trade restrictions under the World Trade Organisation's Doha Development Round of negotiations. If both talks fail, then Argentine wine makers might find a further extension hard to secure.

A council communiqué nonetheless noted malic acid use was "approved by the International Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV)".