After December 8, 2023, all wine which was not produced and labelled before that date must disclose ingredients, allergen, energy, and nutrition information, according to Regulation (EU) 2021/2117.
Allergens and intolerances must appear on or be physically attached to the product. Some of the other required information, such as ingredients, can optionally be disclosed via “electronic means” such as with a QR code.
Wine which is not in compliance must be removed from the market and may have penalties applied as well, according to the law. See E.U. 1306/2013 Chapter IV, Article 89.
What’s the deadline for compliance?
Wine which was “produced and labelled” before December 8, 2023, is exempt from the requirements and can continue to be sold in the E.U. after that date, until the exhaustion of supplies.
An official definition of “produced” has not been released. The definition of “produced” in the context of the law is currently being interpreted by the wine industry as “completed fermentation in the barrel”. If an official definition of this becomes available, we will update it here.
What happens if a wine is not compliant with the EU wine label rules?
Wine that fails to comply with the new regulations can be removed from the market and incur administrative penalties in accordance with regulation E.U. 1306/2013 Chapter IV, Article 89.
Enforcement with inspections is delegated to and meant to be handled by each E.U. member state.
What information is required to be shown on the wine label itself, and what can be provided by a URL or QR code?
Energy information, similar to the declaration of calories in the U.S., must be displayed on wine labels using the symbol “E” based on a 100ml serving.
Any potential allergens will also need to be prominently displayed on the wine label and listed under the word “Contains”. You can find the list of known intolerances and allergens* as well as notes on how to display them in Regulation (EU) 1169/2011, in Article 9, Section 1(c).
Ingredient and nutritional information must be provided, but these can be made available through a QR code or URL on the wine label which sends the consumer to a webpage with that information.
Note that the “electronic label” or e-label cannot contain any information intended for sales or marketing purposes. Distributing sales and marketing details alongside the required ingredient or nutritional details is a violation of the regulation.
For more detail on how to disclose the nutrition and energy information, such as how to calculate the energy values and how to organize allergens according to the rules, see this detailed guide.
What language must the information be displayed in?
The law requires making the above information available in an official E.U. language easily understood by the consumer. It further states that E.U. member countries can specify the languages which e-labels must be displayed in.
Is it compliant to create webpages with information on each wine on my wine brand’s website?
This approach risks not being compliant for several reasons.
Most platforms used to build websites contain tracking software which could store data about customers who view your e-labels. This is explicitly forbidden by the law – see 2021/2117, Article 16a (32) (c) for more information.
Furthermore, to be compliant, no sales or marketing material can appear anywhere on those pages, according to the law.
Lastly, the content would have to appear in one or more official E.U. language which is easily understood by the consumer to be compliant.
A specialized software solution that serves “clean” webpages, including only information that is required, is the most reliable solution for compliance.
If I use a dedicated e-label solution, can I link to my own website?
When a wine producer uses software to generate QR codes and e-labels for their wine, it’s reasonable that they will want to include links in the e-label so that customers can easily find the wine product or brand’s official website.
The rules don’t clearly specify if or how it is acceptable to provide a link to a wine producer’s website from a wine’s e-label so as not to violate the requirements that a) no sales or marketing information be displayed, or b) that user data not be tracked.
To the best of our knowledge, wine associations currently have different guidance on this to wineries.
Note – we are in touch with regulators and will keep this article updated as we learn more about this topic.
What are the benefits of using QR codes to display the wine ingredient information?
Wineries are choosing QR codes for compliance due to three significant benefits:
They can automatically be translated into the right language, depending on where the user is scanning it.
You can change the labels in real-time, fixing any issues or errors you discover after you print the labels.
You can avoid large changes to your physical labels.
You can provide different information to consumers depending on where they are located when they scan the wine bottle; for example, an E.U. consumer would see the compliant e-label, while an American one would see marketing information. This requires Dynamic QR codes.
Do beer and spirits need to be compliant?
Beer and spirits are not covered by this updated regulation. Despite that, some spirits producers such as Pernod Ricard have begun voluntarily disclosing nutritional information via QR codes.
Do lowered alcohol or de-alcoholized wine labels need to be compliant?
Wines that have had their alcoholic content lowered or “de-alcoholized” through a process are included in the same regulations as for normal, alcoholic wines, though there are some distinctions depending on the amount of alcohol included in the beverage.
The term “de-alcoholised” (U.K. spelling) must be included, and can be provided digitally if the alcohol by volume is no more than .5%. The term “partially de-alcoholised” can be used if the alcohol by volume is more than 0.5% but below the minimum actual alcoholic strength of the category before de-alcoholisation. One important distinction is that for any wines with strength by volume of less than 10 %, the date of minimum durability is necessary to be included and can also be provided “through electronic means”.
Key takeaways for wineries
All wine sold in the European Union which was not produced and labelled before December 8, 2023, will be legally required to provide allergy, energy, ingredient and nutritional information to consumers on their labels.
Intolerance, allergy, and energy information must be printed directly on the physical wine label. Ingredient and nutrition information can be provided electronically via a QR code or a web link.
The QR code or web link cannot direct the consumer to a webpage with marketing or sales information, or which tracks users.
QR codes have several benefits, making compliance easier, more reliable, and less costly.
*List of potential allergens that MUST be included on the printed bottle label if present in the product:
List of intolerances and allergens. (1); (a) Cereals containing gluten, namely: wheat, rye, barley, oats, spelt, kamut or their hybridised strains, and products thereof, except: (a) wheat based glucose syrups including dextrose (1); (b) wheat based maltodextrins (1); (c) glucose syrups based on barley; (d) cereals used for making alcoholic distillates including ethyl alcohol of agricultural origin; 2. Crustaceans and products thereof; 3. Eggs and products thereof; 4. Fish and products thereof, except: (a) fish gelatine used as carrier for vitamin or carotenoid preparations; (b) fish gelatine or Isinglass used as fining agent in beer and wine; 5. Peanuts and products thereof; 6. Soybeans and products thereof, except: (a) fully refined soybean oil and fat (1); (b) natural mixed tocopherols (E306), natural D-alpha tocopherol, natural D-alpha tocopherol acetate, and natural D-alpha tocopherol succinate from soybean sources; (c) vegetable oils derived phytosterols and phytosterol esters from soybean sources; (d) plant stanol ester produced from vegetable oil sterols from soybean sources; 7. Milk and products thereof (including lactose), except: (a) whey used for making alcoholic distillates including ethyl alcohol of agricultural origin; (b) lactitol; 8. Nuts, namely: almonds (Amygdalus communis L.), hazelnuts (Corylus avellana), walnuts (Juglans regia), cashews (Anacardium occidentale), pecan nuts (Carya illinoinensis (Wangenh.) K. Koch), Brazil nuts (Bertholletia excelsa), pistachio nuts (Pistacia vera), macadamia or Queensland nuts (Macadamia ternifolia), and products thereof, except for nuts used for making alcoholic distillates including ethyl alcohol of agricultural origin; 9. Celery and products thereof; 10.Mustard and products thereof; 11. Sesame seeds and products thereof; 12. Sulphur dioxide and sulphites at concentrations of more than 10 mg/kg or 10 mg/litre in terms of the total SO2 which are to be calculated for products as proposed ready for consumption or as reconstituted according to the instructions of the manufacturers; 13. Lupin and products thereof; 14. Molluscs and products thereof.
NB! No legal advice or guarantee of accuracy is offered in this article. Always check the latest E.U. regulations or other government regulation details with original sources.