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This page gives you a background to the Regulations applicable to the UK, a brief guidance to the key aspects of the law and guidance on the other laws relating to the wine trade.

picture of wine glasses
  How European and UK Wine laws are applied

European Council and Commission Wine Regulations cover:
  • the whole market in wine from the grape to the final sale to the consumer
  • the EC price support system and
  • the arrangements for importation into the Community from other (Third) Countries.

The Commission also issues Directives and Notices on general matters covering the Wine Regime, including where appropriate lists of the responsible (competent) authorities designated by Member States for enforcement purposes. All European legislation may be found in the Eur-Lex section of the Commission website

The Common Agricultural Policy (Wine) Regulations are national Statutory Instruments (SIs) reissued from time to time, and kept up to date by regular amending SIs issued to cover new or amended legislation.

Which Regulations apply in the UK

European Commission Regulations.
  • Rules in the wine sector must apply to all Member States in the European Union.
  • Council and Commission Regulations for the wine sector are published in the Official Journal of the European Communities
  • Among areas covered are winemaking, documentation and record keeping, labelling and price lists. These rules also apply to wines imported into the European Union from non EU countries (Third Countries).
Common Agricultural Policy (Wine) Regulations.

National legislation, taking devolution into account, has been enacted to allow the UK to enforce Community rules, covering England and Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

The three Statutory Instruments are:

  • England and Northern Ireland 2001 S.I. No.686, amended 2003, 2004,2005, 2006.
  • Wales 2001 S.I. 2193amended 2003,2004.
  • Scotland 2002 S.I. 235, amended 2003, 2004.

These may be viewed on the Office of Public Sector information website web site

Enforcement responsibility is shared with Defra, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and Local Authorities, the latter being responsible for all enforcement in the retail sector.

Regulations in the Wine sector - some aspects of the law

Still, sparkling and liqueur wine

The regulations set out conditions for wine making, record keeping and labelling for each of these categories.

1. Winemaking

  • de-acidification and enrichment of wine produced in the UK is subject to permitted limits and must be notified to the WSB. Minimum and/or maximum alcoholic strengths are laid down in each category, with special provision for wines from Third Countries.
  • Processing aids and agents are also identified with maximum limits e.g. total sulphur dioxide must not exceed 160 milligrams per litre in a red wine.

2. Record keeping

  • there is a list of operations including enrichment and bottling which must be recorded promptly. Accompanying documents and records must be kept for at least five years.

3. Labelling

  • Specific mandatory items must be shown, in one field of vision. These include nominal volume (eg 75cl), alcoholic strength (eg 11.5% vol), bottler’s details, country of origin, type of wine
  • Specified optional items may also be shown on certain types of wine, eg vine variety, vintage. Further information may be shown, providing it does not conflict with mandatory or specified optional details and that there is no risk of confusion.
  • For further information please download the following pdf documents:

EU Still wine regulations (PDF - Revised Oct 05)
EU Sparkling wine regulations (PDF - Revised Oct 05)
EU Third Country wine regulations (PDF - Revised Oct 05)
Other Products (PDF) UK wine (PDF)

If you are unable to open these files,
please download the free Acrobat Reader.

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Aromatised wine products

This category includes ‘wines with added flavouring’, such as vermouth and Sangria.

Council Regulation 1601/91 includes definitions and product descriptions but detailed labelling provisions fall under UK Food Labelling Regulations.

Additional national legislation
In addition to EC wine regulations and the CAP (Wine) Regulations, there is a wide range of national legislation which applies to the UK wine industry. The authorities primarily responsible for enforcement of national legislation are the Government Departments concerned, HMRC and Local Authorities (particularly the Trading Standards and Environmental Health Departments).

Some of the major items are shown below for general information:-

  • Trade Descriptions Act 1968
  • Alcoholic Liquor Duties Act 1979
  • Food Act 1984
  • Weights and Measures Act 1985
  • Weights and Measures (Packaged Goods) Regulations 2006
  • Food Safety Act 1990
  • Trade Marks Act 1994
  • Food Labelling Regulations 1996
  • Food (Lot Marking) Regulations 1996
  • Imported Food Regulations 1997
  • Licencing Act 2003

Wine is largely exempt from Food Labelling Regulations, since the European Community has drawn up specific provisions in wine sector.

Legislation since 1998 may be accessed on the HMSO website at

A more extensive list of principal and secondary legislation is given in the WSTA Checklists.

Ingredients Listing (Allergens) (PDF - Revised Dec 05)