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Wine Law

Wine Law Already in the Antiquity attempts have been made to increase the quality of the wine through appropriate laws and regulations and to prevent abuse. There is numerous written evidence of this (see under literature ). The oldest wine law comes from the Babylonian ruler Hammurabi (1728-1686 BC), whose empire at that time almost the entire Mesopotamia included. The law of the Roman Republic also regulated the sale (especially wholesale) of wine and defined in the individual laws what quality guarantee the buyer could expect and how the wine could be marketed. Quality criteria and classes were introduced in the individual countries in the early Middle Ages. Emperor Charlemagne (742-814) passed corresponding laws.

In the 17th century, Burgenland (Austria) had the following four stages: Vinum Nobile (fine wine, breakout wine made from dried berries), Vinum Bonum (quality wine from the varieties Furmint, Augster and Muskateller), Vinum Mediocre (wine of medium quality) and Vinum Cibale (Dining wine or table wine). in the Wien In the 18th century there were the quality levels of manorial wine (only for court tables), Officer wine and soldier's wine. At that time, starting in Spain ( Rioja ), Portugal ( port wine ) and Italy ( Chianti ) started to differentiate wines in two quality classes, namely qualitatively better with and qualitatively less without naming the geographically clearly defined origin. This led to the concept of Romanesque wine law.

Wine laws in Europe

From the end of the 19th century onwards, everyone was Wine-growing countries strict laws have been created to ensure or increase quality and to oppose Wine adulteration to protect. Back then there were still big differences. Finally, as a supplement to this, it became established in France from the 1930s Appellation system as a role model for most European countries. On the basis of these provisions, within the European Union an extensive set of laws and regulations has been created. The laws of the member states are based on this, although there are country-specific deviations in detail.

The standard work in Germany is the "Weinrecht" (Walhalla publishing house, Wilhelm Schevardo and Josef Koy), which in the edition published in December 2019 comprises 4,570 pages plus CD-ROM. It offers the wine law of the EU, the Federal Republic and the federal states. Another work is that of the German Wine Institute ( DWI ) published online platform " Weinrecht " (digital follow-up to the "Weinrecht Commentary" by Prof. Dr. Hans-Jörg cook ). The standard work in Austria is the "Weingesetz" (Manz publishing house, Hannes Mraz and Hans Valentin), which comprises 816 pages in the 5th edition published in 2018. It offers a comprehensive presentation of the entire wine law including all regulations and EU regulations. There is also the electronic database RIS (legal information system), which contains, among other things, wine law issues.

Depending on the climatic conditions, Europe is divided into the three main zones A, B and (with subzones) C. There are different requirements or exemptions for certain wine making processes Wine-growing zone. Each EU member state can allow certain oenological processes or treatments for experimental purposes. A limitation for such wines is that the entire "trial" within a member state may not extend beyond three years (a one-time extension to a further three years is permitted). However, the wine treated in this way must not be sold in other EU Member States.

In addition to the EU requirements, there are more extensive or often even stricter country-specific provisions in the individual countries, most of which also vary from region to region to individual locations or even certain wines. In addition to the above, these regulations also regulate points such as certain Forms of education, Regulations regarding the Winemaking, specific Bottle shapes (such as the Buck bag ), Minimum aging times for wines (barrel and / or bottle), wine names and earliest time of marketing. The review of these rules by official bodies is also defined. The exact regulations are listed under the respective countries.

Wine laws in the New World

In the New world however, the wine law provisions are mostly far less strictly regulated. The normative power of the factual applies in most countries. One orientates oneself very strongly on the consumer wishes, which also leads to a certain uniformization of the wine styles. In this context it is especially in the United States the term Coca-Cola wines emerged. Usually there is only the distinction between Wine, Dessert wine and Sparkling wine with minimum alcohol limits. Rather not common Yield Limits and varietal specifications. The Enrich with sugar is often prohibited, for example in Australia, Chile and South Africa, a Acidification is mandatory in many southern countries due to climatic conditions.

The wine trade agreement between the EU and the USA concluded in 2005 as well as the EU wine market regulations adopted in 2006 brought extensive changes.

EU and US wine trade agreements

In December 2005, the EU Agriculture Ministers made a momentous decision that led to violent reactions and questions in the wine scene. They signed one that had been discussed since 1983 Wine trade agreement with the United States. It took effect in early 2006 and regulates the mutual recognition of manufacturing standards in the Winemaking. Now all procedures are mutually approved that were approved on or before September 14, 2005 in the USA or in the EU. However, this only applies to the placing on the market of products in the other area; what is permitted in the USA can very well be prohibited in the EU. This ended a longstanding dispute between American and European winegrowers.

The USA is now allowed to import wines into the EU that have been processed with certain "modern technologies". Critics believe that this is what the market called for Coca-Cola crying will be flooded. In return, the United States recognizes protected European designations of origin. The previously misused names such as Bordeaux, Champagne, Chianti or Tokaji are no longer used on the labels. For the assessment of the immediately controversial and criticized agreement after the signing, it should be noted that the USA is the largest export market for European wine. EU wine exports to the United States are approximately five times the volume of US wine exports to EU countries. If no agreement had been reached, the restrictive measures taken by the USA would probably have caused the EU to suffer severe losses Wine trade guided.

The new processes have long been widely used, especially in the USA, but some of the cellar technology already used in Europe. These are, for example, devices that extract water from the wine by means of filtration, freezing or steam processes and thereby one concentration of the ingredients. A process that has been used for a long time in the petroleum industry but is new in winemaking Spinning Cone Column (SCC). Simply put, the wine is broken down into certain components and then put together again in such a way that a different taste is related Alcohol content and Flavorings results.

A second particularly criticized application is the addition of water to dilute a must that has grown under the hot sun and is too concentrated. The third group concerns the addition of tannins or wood aromas in various forms. This is not the one used worldwide Barrel expansion meant, but less complex and less expensive methods such as using Wood chips (Pieces of oak) or the addition of aromatic Oak extracts. Wood chips have been permitted under the EU regulation since the beginning of 2007. Also partially allowed in the EU oenological tannins and oenological enzymes. Under the keyword Means of winemaking all related substances are listed.

The biggest point of criticism within the EU (especially and Austria) is that the agreement does not require any labeling for the manufacturing process. So the consumer doesn't know how the wine was produced. There are fears that EU markets will be flooded with cheaply produced ones Artificial wines from the USA. Some of these techniques are considered by quite a few Wine adulteration (Pantschen) called. Among other things, "Purity Laws" are required. However, this is probably unrealistic. A control would probably be so bureaucratically burdensome that success seems very doubtful.

Some controversial techniques have also been common in Europe for a long time and are permitted by the EU at least for experimental purposes. This includes above all at the fermentation used means such as special Yeast, Enzymes and nutrients, as well as processes like osmosis (Reverse osmosis), and the use of RTK (rectified grape must concentrate) and concentrated grape must. One solution could be that winegrowers unite to form quality associations that agree on certain processes and strictly control their use so that the consumer can rely on them.

At the end of 2008, Australia also agreed not to use the European terms of origin, such as Burgundy, Champagne, Port, Sherry or Sauternes, which have always been abused. The use is newly regulated in an agreement between the EU and Australia. Australia agreed to waive these terms after a one-year transition period beginning in early 2010. In return, however, the right is granted to export Australian wines with reduced alcohol to the EU, which was previously prohibited. These are products in which some of the alcohol is used, for example osmosis (Reverse osmosis) was withdrawn.

Common organization of the market in wine

In June 2006 the EU published a policy paper on reforming the common organization of the market in wine. The aim was to counteract the declining trend in consumption (minus 750,000 hl annually) and the sharp increase in imports of wine from third countries by taking appropriate measures. EU-wide overproduction of 27 million hectoliters of wine was forecast for 2010, which would have been almost 15% of the total production. Through this Excess production at that time threatened the member countries with drastic loss of income in viticulture.

After corresponding consultations in the EU bodies involving all EU wine-growing countries, the new GMO wine (Common Market Organization for Wine) came into force in August 2009. Transitional periods are planned for the implementation of the various measures. This affects above all Wine designation law, various oenological processes and a grubbing-up campaign. The most serious change is probably the introduction of the internationally established one Principle of origin with new wine quality levels. This is in detail under the keyword Quality system described in detail.

As part of the resolved Clearing action around 2011, around 160,000 hectares of vineyards were eliminated. The approval of the vine planting from 2018, which was also decided, was withdrawn in 2013 and that Planting law newly regulated. There are changes in the oenological processes Enrich (Increase alcohol content), sulphurous acid (Limit values), Sweetener (Increase residual sugar) and Wood chips (Oak shavings). As a further change you can now also Quality wine within the EU no longer exclusively in Bottles, but also containers like Bag-in-box, Pet bottle and Tetra pack be filled.

Vitop® tap / bag-in-box

Keywords relevant to wine law

The most important wine-law-relevant terms mentioned above are listed below. The basis for the legal provisions are EU regulations. Naturally there are always changes or amendments. In detail, the regulations are often different Wine-growing zone and / or wine quality level. In addition, the federal states often have the option of receiving exemptions, mostly due to climatic or traditional reasons, or a certain scope:

further information

With the individual key words, all important wine-law-related issues are listed in detail. All tools, work and measures in the vineyard during the Vegetation cycle can be found at Vineyard maintenance. Complete lists of the numerous cellar techniques, as well as a list of wine, sparkling wine and distillate types regulated by wine law are under the keyword Winemaking contain.

Image: by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay

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