Experimental techniques used to reduce alcohol content in wines have been cleared by the EU.

The ruling means that, for the first time, EU-based companies can use the techniques to reduce alcohol in their products and still market the finished result as wine.

Experimental technqiues for reducing alcohol in wine include reverse osmosis and so-called "spinning cone", which was developed in Australia and uses a series of steel spinning cones and steam to remove alcohol content.

Jeremy Beadles, chief executive of the Wine & Spirit Trade Association (WSTA), welcomed the European Commission's ruling, which came into force from mid-October. "Customers have been saying for some time that they want more choice and these rule-changes should allow the industry to meet that demand," he said this week.

The WSTA gained support from the UK government in order to push for change in the EU rules.

Restrictions still apply, notably that alcohol content can only be reduced by a maximum of 2% abv. Producers must also notify the European Commission of the process used, and the technique used must be recognised by the International Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV).