Wine standards FAQs

Find out more about wine standards. For more detailed questions please contact your regional inspector.
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Why do wine standards inspectors visit traders and vineyards and keep a register?

Our inspectors are entitled to visit your premises to make checks on your stock and records if you import, ship or market wine sector products or grow grapes or make wine from fresh grapes grown in the UK. We keep a register of such traders to manage our programme of visits and keep the UK’s statistical record of area under vine, harvest and wine production. Further advice can be obtained by contacting your Regional Inspector.

Where can I find information about regulations?

WSB guidance notes and accompanying documentation can be found in PDF files: Brief Introduction to the Common Agricultural Policy Wine Regulations of the EC, Guidance on the movement of wine into and within the EU.

Detailed information on EU and UK National legislation can be found in a guide to wine law.

The Wine & Spirit Trade Association offers information through its Checklists (fee payable for non-members).

Do I have to pay for wine standards advice?

There is no charge for advice we give. Information about labelling and other aspects of wine sector regulations is given on the basis of our interpretation of European Wine Legislation as it applies to the United Kingdom through the national Wine Regulations. Please allow a few days for a reply.

What are the new PDO and PGI descriptions?

PDO stands for Protected Designation of Origin and PGI for Protected Geographical Indication. Wines produced in the EC in the former Quality Wine category are now PDO wines and Table wines with geographical indication (e.g. Vin de Pays) are now PGI. Wines in both categories must submit applications to the EC before December 2011 to have them permanently approved. The EC has published a list on the eBacchus website

Wines from Third Countries may apply for PDO or PGI status but are otherwise entitled to use a geographical description approved by the producer country.

What is meant by 'traditional terms' for wines?

Protected traditional terms are descriptions which have been defined for use for one or more PDOs or PGIs and are protected against use by wines from other regions or countries. Third Countries must apply to the EC to use terms which are already protected for one or more Member States, such as Reserva and Gran Reserva. See list on eBacchus.

What is a VI1?

A VI1 is a document issued in a Third Country of origin giving a description and analysis details for wines imported into the European Community. It is issued by a Third Country authority as shown on a list published by the European Commission - see List 6

When do I need a VI2 and where do I get one?

A VI2 is an extract of the certificate and analysis report known as a VI1 which must accompany imports from Third Countries. A VI2 is used for the movement of Third Country wines when a consignment is split before entry into free circulation. This is issued by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). HMRC also supplies details about import and excise duty on wine. Contact HMRC for more information.

How can I get advice about label design?

The main requirements for different categories of wine are set out in notes listed in A guide to wine law. For advice on specific labels, please contact your regional inspector.

Producers from outside the EU should direct enquiries to your importer in the UK. Importers in other EC countries should contact the authorities in those countries.

I want to import wine from outside the EU, what do I need to do?

You will need a VI1 document issued in the country of origin for each shipment. You should also check with the producer that the wine is made in accordance with practices and processes allowed under EC wine regulations. Unless shipped in bulk, wine must also be labelled to comply with the regulations.

Further general guidance is given in the Brief Introduction to Wine Regulations of the EC.

Do I need an import licence?

Import licences for wines from Third Countries are no longer required.

I want to bring in wine from another EU country into the UK for sale, what do I need to do?

Wine must be transported under the electronic administrative document system and will be subject to excise duty in the UK before it can be released for sale. There is further information on the HM Revenue and Customs website. As wines from other EC countries are subject to the same regulations, they will usually comply. However you may wish to look at website labelling advice or check with the local Wine Inspector.

Do I need a licence to trade in wine?

The Licencing System for retail sales comprises a Premises Licence and a Personal Licence. For further information consult your local authority (Trading Standards) or the Home Office website. A new system was introduced in Scotland in 2009.

What is a CAD and an AAD and when are they used?

A Commercial Accompanying Document (CAD) must be used in the UK for the transport of grapes, either when sold or when the distance travelled exceeds 40km. The CAD is available on the website resources page.

The Administrative Accompanying Document (AAD) is required by HM Revenue and Customs for movements under duty suspension: see Customs Notice 197.

Who is responsible for procedures for import of wine made from organic grapes?

For wines from outside the EC, you should look at the Defra guidance on the GOV.UK website for further information. Registration with a UK organic inspection body is required for imports from countries with comparable organic regimes and for other countries Defra will issue annual import authorisation (fee payable) on completion of a standardised application form. Wines from other Member States will be covered by the inspection bodies authorised by each country.

Where can I find out about rates of excise duty?

HM Revenue & Customs publishes this information on its website - see Excise and Other section.

Are you responsible for other 'wines' such as fruit wines?

Products which do not fall under the wine sector e.g. wines made from other fruit may only be described as a composite term, for example Apple Wine. Please contact your local Trading Standards department for advice on these.

Are units of alcohol required on wine?

Units of alcohol and related health warnings are not compulsory on wine. Details about the the voluntary alcohol labelling scheme are available on the Portman Group website.

What allergens should be labelled on wine and how must they be displayed?

Wines with sulphur dioxide exceeding 10 mg/litre and wines which are fined with milk or egg products must include a statement on one of the labels.

The wording is

  • sulphur dioxide/sulphites/sulfites
  • ‘egg’, ‘egg protein’, ‘egg product’, ‘egg lysozyme’ or ‘egg albumin’
  • ‘milk’, ‘milk products’, ‘milk casein’ or ‘milk protein’