UK wine regulatory reform

On 24 May 2023, the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) announced a comprehensive Wine Reforms Consultation process aimed at harmonising regulation to improve trade.

The reforms covered proposed changes to a number of UK wine rules and regulation including:

  • importer labelling
  • hybrid grape varieties
  • piquette (a lower-alcohol, fermented drink)
  • blending wines
  • foil wraps and mushroom stoppers
  • wine certification arrangements
  • bottle shapes
  • methods of analysis and controls on enrichment
  • ice wine
  • approved oenological (winemaking) processes and methods of recognising and recording these
  • transforming wine sector products in the United Kingdom.

The consultation for the reforms closed to feedback on 21 July 2023.

On 16 October 2023, DEFRA published its response to the consultation, announcing a number of key reforms to commence in 2024. Of note, the announcement included key proposals to remove the requirement for imported wines to have a named importer on the label, removing regulations which prohibit the blending (coupage) of imported wines, as well as removing rules on bottle shape and mandatory use of mushroom stoppers and foil on sparkling wine. 

In addition, the DEFRA Summary and Government response  sets out information on the additional items which will undergo further consultation or consideration such as transformation and approved oenological (winemaking) processes.  

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