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Low alcohol lunacy by EU

Published:  18 January, 2007

As a lawyer, navigating the complexity of environmental law was my day-to-day business. It was, however, as nothing compared with the legislation now faced by the wine industry.

Oenological practices, such as "reverse osmosis" or use of the "spinning cone" are not, however, currently permitted in the production of wine for sale within the EU.

The WSTA is seeking a temporary derogation to allow wines made using these practices to be sold in the UK. But to add to the confusion, wines produced in the US using these practices can be sold in the EU under the terms of the EU/US bilateral agreement.

Meanwhile, reverse osmosis is currently permitted in France on an experimental basis and spinning cone technologies have been licensed, also on an experimental basis, in Spain. Wines made using these processes can then be sold in their country of origin under the terms of the experimental licences.

These regulations are not in the interest of the consumer or industry. Consumers have indicated that they want a wider choice of lower alcohol wines and the oenological practices in question present no public health concerns and are widely used outside the EU.

We hope that the European Commission will take a pragmatic view.

Jeremy Beadles is chief executive of the Wine & Spirit Trade Association