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UK: EU wine rules shake-up still on UK Government agenda

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The UK Government has vowed to press on with its bid to force the European Union (EU) to change its rules on the definition of wine.

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Under current EU law, the minimum abv for still wine is 8.5%, with deviations allowed for naturally weaker varieties, like Italian Moscato. However, the UK Government says the rules are a hindrance in its efforts to encourage producers to make lower-alcohol wine. 

In a statement sent to just-drinks today (15 August), a Department of Health spokesperson said: “We will continue our efforts to change EU wine rules, to allow all wine producers to make and market lower alcohol products. This will help to help promote healthier choices and tackle the serious harm alcohol causes.”

Ministers are pushing for the definiton to be moved to as low as 4.5% abv, the Daily Telegraph reported today. France, Italy and Portugal are among the countries that object to a redefiniton, it also reported. 

The Wine & Spirit Trade Association appeared to support the Government's efforts and said it has been working “for a number of years” to get the rules changed.

“Changes to the regulations would provide greater flexibility for winemakers across Europe and help to broaden consumer choice," WSTA chief executive Miles Beale said.

EU wine making laws also currently allow the use of new technologies to cut a wine's alcohol content by a maximum of 2% abv for “experimental purposes”. Under EU law, the technologies permitted are reverse osmosis or cone technology.


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