A committee of the European Parliament has come down firmly in favour of drastic changes to the European Commission's plans for reforming the EU's wine sector.

By a majority of 31, with only seven against, the EP's agriculture committee voted this week to retain financial aid for distilling surplus wine production into industrial alcohol and to reduce the period during which winemakers giving up the profession can receive subsidies from five to three years. Both these points had been originally covered by the EC in its original proposals.

The MEPs also voted to scrap the Commission plan to transfer powers to authorise new winemaking practices from member states to the Commission and the Brussels proposal to disallow the sugaring of wine.

These changes, which amount to a sweeping rejection of the main elements of the Commission's plans for tackling the EU wine surplus, are expected to be approved by the full Parliament in December.