The government has removed the requirement for imported wines to have an importer address on the label, amid several reforms intended to “ease burdens and grow domestic production”.
Following a public consultation, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) set out reforms for the wine sector, which will begin in 2024.
Changes include removing the requirement for imported wines to have an importer address on the label. This will mean that only the Food Business Operator (FBO) responsible for ensuring all legal requirements are met, will need to be identified on packaging. This is already the standard requirement for food products, Defra said.
The plan will also end the mandatory use of mushroom-shaped stopper and foil sheaths on sparkling wine, “reducing unnecessary waste and packaging costs for consumers”.
Elsewhere, rules on bottle shapes have been scrapped.
Producers will now also have the option to apply to protected designations of origin and geographical indications for wines produced using hybrid varieties of grapes. “This will increase their resilience in the face of climate change and disease and providing greater choice for consumers,” Defra said.
In terms of blending, the reforms end the ban on the blending (coupage) of imported wines.
Producers will also be allowed to make and market piquette (a lower-alcohol drink produced by rinsing the by-products of wine production, including grape skins and stalks, with water and fermenting that rinse).
Miles Beale, chief executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association said the trade organisation has been calling for many of these changes.
“Removing the restrictive rules on importer labelling will significantly reduce the post-Brexit impact of having to have a unique UK label,” Beale said. “Moving to labelling Food Business Operator should allow one common label for both UK and EU markets, which will maintain the UK as an attractive destination market and support our aim for UK consumers continue to have access to the widest possible choice of wine from around the world.
“And at a time when businesses are doing all they can to minimise packaging waste, changes to packaging rules will be good for business, the environment and consumers.”
Food and drink minister Mark Spencer said the reforms “scrap outdated and burdensome rules so that our wineries, vineyards and traders can continue to innovate and help grow our economy”.
To read the full consultation, click here.