As you know, the new year has just begun and is already full of news and changes for the wine sector. As of December 8, 2023, Regulation (EU) 2021/2117, published on December 2, 2021, modifies the rules for labeling wines and aromatised wines, and will require the list of ingredients and nutritional information for wines to be included on the label. Those bottles produced and labelled before December 8 will not be affected and, therefore, will not need any modification to their labels. They can be placed on the market until they run out of stock.
Within the framework of this new regulation, the first question arises. What is an ingredient? According to Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011, on the provision of food information to the consumer, an ingredient is defined as: any substance or product, including flavorings, food additives and food enzymes or any component of a composite ingredient, used in the manufacture or preparation of a food product and still present in the finished product, possibly in a modified form. Keep in mind that waste is not considered an ingredient.
We at the Agrovin Group, with the help of the prestigious oenologist advisor Laurent Chancholle, want to use this post to tell you all about the news and consequences implied by this new European regulation.
Additives must be on the label
Regulation (EU) 2019/934, of March 12, 2019, lists the authorised oenological practices and their classification as additives or adjuvants (technological auxiliaries). Only additives are required to appear on the label. They include:
tartaric acid, malic acid, lactic acid, calcium sulphate, citric acid. You can find our acidifiers here.
Preservatives and antioxidants:
sulphur dioxide, potassium bisulfite, potassium metabisulphite, potassium sorbate, lysozyme, ascorbic acid, dimethyl dicarbonate (DMDC). You can find our antioxidants here.
citric acid, metatartaric acid, gum arabic, yeast mannoproteins, carboxymethylcellulose (CMC), potassium polyaspartate, fumaric acid. You can find our stabilisers here.
Ovalbumin and caseinate, which, although considered adjuvants, because they are allergens, are also included in the list of additives. You can find our allergen certificate here.
As consultant winemaker Laurent Chancholle points out, “the nutrition declaration on the label may be limited to the energy value (in kcal or kj), provided that information is fully accessible. In fact, the energy value has more meaning for the consumer than the labeling of the complete nutritional table, since the wine does not contain salt, protein or fat.” In his view, it is a matter of public health and transparency for consumers, as well as harmonisation with long-established rules in the food industry.
And how can the producer provide this information so that the consumer can obtain it? “The sector seems to be moving towards the use of QR codes, which will be printed on the bottles,” says the winemaker.
CURRENT CONSUMER TRENDS: Healthy and Safe
Undoubtedly, this new regulation responds and has been adapted to the needs and trends of today’s consumer, who demand healthy and safe products. And not only that, but, increasingly, society wants to know more and is asking for transparency when deciding on one product or another. In such a framework, Laurent Chancholle believes that “it is normal and the time is right to launch these changes and thus assure consumers that the rules defined for a long time in the food industry will be applied. The lack of transparency implies that we have things to hide and this is never good in a market as globalised, competitive and hyper-connected as the current one and, therefore, with easy and fast access to information.”
Faced with these new labeling requirements, the European Committee of Wine Enterprises (CEEV) and spirits EUROPE have developed the electronic platform www.u-label.com, which helps with the creation of product sheets with information that meets the legislative requirements, automatically translating this information into the 24 official languages of the European Union and publishing all this on an electronic label. A QR code must be printed on the back label of the product. By scanning that QR code on the label, consumers can access all that information in the language they prefer.
This way, the consumer will be able to simply and easily gain access to the list of additives and nutritional value while the producer will not have to overload the bottle and deteriorate the visual of a container with an unattractive amount of information.
Consequences of the new regulation on wine labeling
This new regulation undoubtedly implies an increase in expenses for wine producers, since they will be forced to modify their labels by adding the QR code and the energy label. In addition, as the winemaker points out, “wine distributors will have to educate their customers and they must be trained in oenology for this, to at least be able to explain why this or that additive is found in the wines they market”. Laurent Chancholle goes a step further by stating that “certain winemakers and restaurants will review their purchasing strategies based on the compositions”.
In addition, producers will inevitably raise the question of the need to use this or that additive to avoid mentioning it in the list of additives. They will think about ways not to use them and therefore mitigate their effects through the use of a physical method. Laurent Chancholle also notes that “of course, this can have consequences for Agrovin: with a decrease in the sales of products classified as additives in favour of auxiliaries, as well as an increase in sales of physical treatment machines. Agrovin must position itself as one of the leading brands of oenological products through its expanded offerings with physical treatments.”
Consumers will undoubtedly value producers who use fewer additives in general. “I don’t think consumers are willing to agree to pay more for a reference wine they know because it is produced with fewer additives,” concludes the winemaker.