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New wine label reforms take effect

Published:  02 January, 2024

As of yesterday (1 January 2024), several new wine reforms introduced by the government have taken effect, including the removal of importer addresses from wine labels.

Following a public consultation in October 2023, the department for environment, food and rural affairs (Defra) announced that it would remove the requirement for imported wines to have an importer address on the label. As a result, only the name and address of the food business operator (FBO) will need to be identified on the label.

However, if the FBO is not based in the UK, Channel Islands or Isle of Man an importer label will still be required.

Furthermore, a wine will not need to be re-labelled to comply with the rules if it’s already been labelled and is being aged, it’s already in the supply chain, or if it was placed on the market before 1 January 2024.

Speaking in October, Miles Beale, CEO of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) welcomed the label reforms.

“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 to continue to have access to the widest possible choice of wine from around the world.”

Meanwhile, makers of English sparkling wine will no longer have to use mushroom-shaped stoppers and foil covers on bottlenecks as part of the reforms.

According to Defra, the new measures will help reduce waste and costs for producers.

Restrictions will also be scrapped on the making and selling of piquette - a lower-alcohol drink dating back to antiquity, made by extracting the remaining goodness from grapes left over after winemaking.

Nicola Bates, CEO of WineGB, said: “We welcome the additional choice that comes from this first phase of actions from the wine reform consultation. There will be producers who are keen to take advantage of all and every option to reduce materials on bottles, so we can expect to see fewer foils on sparkling, allowing you to celebrate that bit faster, and with an environmental benefit.”