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Volume 472: debated on Thursday 21 February 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what restrictions apply to the sale of lower alcohol wine (a) within the UK and (b) elsewhere in the EU produced (i) in the UK, (ii) elsewhere in the EU, (iii) in the USA and (iv) in other countries; and if he will make a statement; (186853)

(2) if he will review the restrictions on the sale of lower alcohol wines in the UK; and if he will make a statement.

The minimum permitted alcohol content for wine produced and marketed in the EU is laid down in the Common Market Organisation (CMO) for Wine (Council Regulation (EEC) 1493/99). The requirements vary according to the type of wine and the region of production. Wines imported into the EU are, in general, subject to the same requirements, although a number of countries, including the US, have concluded bilateral agreements, which provide for wine produced in conformity with national standards to be imported and marketed in the EU.

The agreement reached in December 2007 on a new wine CMO will provide, in due course, for a streamlining of the process of adopting new wine making techniques in the EU. The UK will continue to press for the consideration and the adoption of internationally recognised alcohol reduction techniques, and thereby allow EU wine producers the ability to utilise these processes in the production and marketing of their wines in the EU.