A European Commission proposal to allow EU winemakers to produce rosé wine by mixing red and white wines together has been dropped, following opposition led by France.

Announcing the u-turn in policy today (8 June), European agriculture commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel said: "It's become clear over recent weeks that a majority in our wine sector believe that ending the ban on blending could undermine the image of traditional rosé. I am always prepared to listen to good arguments, and that's why I am making this change."

A plan to approve the controversial blending technique to make rosé table wine was part of the Commission's reform package for the EU wine sector.

However, French agriculture minister Michel Barnier said in March that France would "do everything" to maintain a ban on blending.

France's Provence wine region, which uses traditional maceration to make rosé and accounts for 5% of worldwide rosé production, is vehemently opposed to blending, which is currently only allowed in the EU in Spain and only for wines produced for domestic consumption. 

"What worries us most is the prospect of seeing the efforts we have put in over the past 15 years to improve the quality of rosé wines wiped out," Jean-Jacques Breban, president of trade body the Conseil Interprofessionnel des Vins de Provence (CIVP), told just-drinks earlier this year.

French wine magnate Bernard Magrez, who owns Chateau Pape Clement and is currently promoting its Prélat rosé wine in the UK, said today: "Rosé wine lovers may actually have stopped drinking their favourite wine because they were disappointed with the low quality, without even realising that it was all down to a new production method."

Critics of the Commission's u-turn say that consumers should have the right to decide.