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Everything You Need to Know About the New Wine Labeling

There's a new regulation that allows you to make a more conscious and informed choice for your health when buying Portuguese wine. Similar to other food products, you will now have access to nutritional information and ingredients on the wine label.

 


woman at a restaurant table reading a red wine bottle label

 

With the aim of aligning wine labeling with other food products, the European Commission has implemented new rules in effect since December 8th through Regulation (EU) No. 2117/2021 of the European Parliament and of the Council, dated December 2, 2021.


The transition to the new rules is already underway, and for wines produced before December 8th, there is a variable adaptation period. All wines and labels in stock in producers' cellars can be used until they run out. This regulation will be fully applied to wines harvested in 2024 and onwards.



In addition to traditional mandatory information such as brand, type of wine, origin*, vintage*, alcohol content, bottle volume, and others, labels will now also include a nutritional table with energy value. A change aimed at providing more conscious choices for health—do you really want to know how many calories are in a glass of wine?


The new legislation requires the mandatory inclusion of the energy value, while the nutritional table can be available in electronic format (QR Code).


The nutritional declaration should include:
  • Energy value;

  • Amounts of lipids;

  • Saturated fatty acids;

  • Carbohydrates;

  • Sugars;

  • Proteins;

  • Salt.



If it's important for you to know how many calories your favorite wine has, you'll need to look for the "E" symbol (meaning energy) on the label. Calories should be expressed in kJ and kcal per 100 ml. A quick note, a glass of wine served in a restaurant or bar is usually around 120-150 ml... get ready with the calculator. All values in the nutritional declaration (energy value and nutritional elements) must be established average values.



Now, the electronic disclosure of the list of ingredients or additives is also mandatory. Yes, wine can have many other ingredients besides grapes... for some reason, there has been a movement since the 1980s called Natural Wine.


Legally, the Winemaker has a long list of oenological products at their disposal to help make the wine that best satisfies the consumer.



Here is the list of ingredients, according to the new regulation 2019/934 of the European Union.

  • Grapes (term to indicate the base raw material, whether grapes or grape must);

  • Concentrated grape must (term to designate concentrated grape must or rectified concentrated grape must);

  • Additives: acidity regulators (e.g., tartaric acid; citric acid; calcium sulfate); preservatives and antioxidants (e.g., sulfur dioxide; potassium bisulfite; potassium metabisulfite; potassium sorbate; lysozyme; ascorbic acid); stabilizing agents (e.g., citric acid; gum arabic; fumaric acid); gases and packaging gases (e.g., argon, nitrogen, carbon dioxide);

  • Technological auxiliaries that cause allergies or intolerances and that remain present in the final product, even in altered form (e.g., sulfites; egg white).


The list of ingredients must follow the descending order of weight when representing more than 2%. Here's an example of what you'll start reading to find out what you've been drinking all these years.


Ingredients: Grapes, preservative (Sulfites), acidity regulator (Citric acid), antioxidant (L-ascorbic acid), stabilizing agent (contains carboxymethylcellulose or potassium polyaspartate).

Until then, only ingredients with potential allergenic effects, such as sulfites or eggs, were mandatory. Whenever the new list of ingredients is provided electronically, don't worry, the indication of allergens will still appear on the label.



Mateus Rosé was the first Portuguese wine to implement the digital label, through which we found out that the ingredients used are grapes, grape must, carbon dioxide, preservative (sulfur dioxide, potassium sorbate), and stabilizer (citric acid). That 100 milliliters of wine have 71 kilocalories, 0 grams of fat, protein, or salt, and 15 grams of carbohydrates in the form of sugar. (source: Dinheiro Vivo)

All technical information about wine, nutritional table, list of ingredients, and whatever else the producer wants to share with the consumer can appear, as mentioned, through QR Code, as some already do. However, the website address printed on the label is not a sufficient means to meet the mandatory requirements.


To facilitate compliance with the law, various European wine federations, the Vin Committee, and Spirits Europe have joined forces and created the collective platform U-Label. Wine producers are thus facilitated in creating electronic labels, in addition to reducing costs with labels in various languages. However, be aware that information regarding the nutritional declaration and the list of ingredients "cannot be presented with other information intended for commercial or marketing purposes."



Regarding your privacy and electronic security, you can rest assured—your data cannot be collected or tracked. However, you will need to have a smartphone (with Wi-Fi connection) capable of reading/scanning a QR Code and immediately converting it into a URL to access the page with the mandatory information.


With a transition period to the new legislation currently in place, for all wines produced before December 8, 2023, producers can use the labels they have in stock until they run out. Thus, it is expected that with the launch of wines from the 2024 harvest, the new legislation will be the norm for consumers.


I believe it is important to remember that wine is the only food product whose labeling undergoes evaluation and approval before being placed on the market. It is up to the Regional Wine Commissions (CVR's) or equivalent entities to do so. Other food products are required to comply with the law, but no independent body evaluates before they go on the shelf.



If you're looking to deepen your understanding of Portuguese wines or seeking a digital content creator, consider exploring my specialized wine training and consulting services. Contact me now by email at somm@teresagomes.com or WhatsApp +351-964370633.




*Optional for Regional wines and not allowed for Wine.


Technical information based on the presentation - New Labeling Rules by Anabela Alves (Coordinator of the Legal Office of IVV) during the Viniportugal 2023 Wines Forum.

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