The wine aisle at your local supermarket has dozens, if not hundreds, of options for you to choose from. Once you make your decision and head to the check-out, why that wine? The label conveys a lot of information which helps us make our decision. Was it the vintage, variety, producer, or alcoholic content? Perhaps the label just caught your eye.
In the wine industry there exists legislation which determines how you can label a wine, and this legislation differs depending on the country. If a company wants to sell their wine in New Zealand they must comply with the New Zealand regulations, and if New Zealand producers wish to export, they must comply with that country’s legislation.
Wine sold in New Zealand follows the labeling laws outlined in the Wine Act 2003 and the Food Standards Australia New Zealand code. The legislation requires that some information must be included on a bottle of wine. This is called ‘mandatory information’.
The mandatory information in New Zealand includes:
- Product Name
- Country of Origin
- Alcohol by volume
- Net contents
- Sulphite declaration
- Allergen declaration
- Standard drinks
- Lot identification
You will notice that it is not mandatory to include the variety or vintage on the wine label, a company can simply state ‘wine’, ‘white wine’ or ‘red wine’ under the ‘product name’. There are further regulations that determine whether you can state the variety or vintage, therefore it is optional. The legislation states that at least 85% of the fruit must have come from the stated variety or vintage in order to include this information on the label.
This regulation also applies to region, also known as ‘Geographical Indicator’. If a company wishes to state the region, 85% of the fruit must come from the stated region.
If you pick up a cask of ‘Country White Wine’, it probably does not meet the regulations to state variety.
Other optional information in New Zealand includes:
- Environmental, sustainability and organic claims
- Nutrition content
- Nutrition content claims
- Lower alcohol claims
If a company makes these claims on a label, they must follow strict guidelines.
Wine companies are also encouraged to display a health advisory information/Pregnancy labelling, and also a ‘Cheers’ logo (a website providing the consumer with information on safe drinking practices) but these are not mandatory.
Most New Zealand wine is exported, therefore a wine-company must go through a rigorous process to ensure their labels not only meet the labelling legislation for their local market but also meet the regulations for the country they are exporting to.