…or how to make the most of the latest mandatory statements to clarify the image of your wine and ensure its protection.

Wine – or more specifically wine labelling – is falling in line. (Scarcely) no difference of treatment with other products now – including beer. Since 8 December 2023, any label on a bottle of wine must include the list of ingredients as well as the product’s nutritional value (energy value, fat, sugar and salt content, etc.).

On 24 November 2023, the European Commission issued an opinion stating that this new labelling regulation did not apply to wines “produced” or imported before 8 December 2023: these wines “may continue to be marketed in accordance with the labelling requirements applicable before 8 December 2023, while supplies last. The new regulation therefore applies to wines imported since 8 December 2023 and will apply to the 2024 harvest, for bottled and bulk wine as well as any alcoholic beverage.

What are these mandatory statements that any wine label shall now include?

  • Name of grapevine product category (Wine, Sparkling Wine or PDO/PGI),
  • Alcoholic degree,
  • Country of origin,
  • Name of the bottler,
  • Allergens (sulphites, egg, etc.),
  • Net content,
  • Batch number,
  • Sugar content for sparkling wines,
  • Minimum storage life for grapevine products treated for dealcoholisation,
  • Health and safety warning to strongly discourage alcohol consumption to pregnant women,
  • Ingredients list,
  • Nutrition declaration.

As mandatory statements, the nutrition declaration and the ingredients list must in the opinion of the Commission “appear in a single visual field on the container together with all mandatory statements, be simultaneously readable without the need to rotate the container, in indelible characters and clearly distinguishable from adjacent texts or illustrations“. Wine professionals succeeded in having both the ingredients list and the nutrition declaration digitalised through a QR code. However, this possibility is strictly regulated and the Commission mentions that “when the nutrition declaration and/or the ingredients list are provided digitally, the link (QR code or similar) to the nutrition declaration and/or the ingredients list must be presented on the label in a single visual field together with all mandatory statements“. Unlike the other mandatory statements, substances causing allergies or intolerances may appear in a different visual field.

Extra constraints for winegrowers in a context of a decreasing wine consumption in France. The label on the front of a bottle of wine is the first thing that catches the consumer’s eye, their very first contact with the wine. Most of the time it triggers, it motivates purchase. Creativity matters in this area. The information presented on the label (graphics, colours, figurative elements) and the choice of trademark are decisive factors. The new mandatory statements are the perfect opportunity to think about the image you want to convey through your label.

The label and the differentiation elements of a wine bottle must be protected. The graphic elements of a label can be protected by design, as shown in the following examples:

DMC 006381620-0001 DMC003002674-0001

DMC 002690222-0015 DM/212 305

The mention of a brand name on the label of a bottle of wine is a distinctive sign for consumers, thus enhancing the value of the winery. Wine brands are often made up of a family name and/or a place name related with other mentions such as domain, farmhouse, castle, etc., alongside today’s trend for fancy names or elements on labels.

EUTM n°018895216 EUTM 018629475 FR4917786

The use of certain words (castle, domain), as well as the choice of a patronymic or fanciful sign require extreme caution. While the use of the terms “castle”, “domain”, “abbey”, “farmhouse”, etc. is not prohibited, it is subject to regulations, with certain terms such as “castle », or « domain ” to be used specifically for PDO wines, provided that the wine is both harvested and vinified on the estate. In addition, before adopting a fanciful name or graphic element, prior searches should be carried out to ensure that it is available, bearing in mind that if a creative agency is involved, it is also necessary to ensure transfer of copyright. While it is possible to register a surname as a trademark – subject to availability, coexistence with namesakes who use their surname in the course of their business may be commercially inconvenient, without being legally questionable.

In case you might seek advice on the protection of your labels and, more generally, on the choice and protection of your wine trademarks, do not hesitate to contact Lavoix’s teams.

Published On: 11 April 2024Categories: PublicationsTags: ,

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