A comparison of legislation about winemaking additives and processes

V.C. Galpin

Cape Wine Master Seminar, 2006


This document presents a comparison of legislation about the additives and processes that can be used in winemaking, which are collectively known as oenological practices. It considers five jurisdictions: South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, the United States and the European Union. The comparison covers the different styles of legislation, details of which oenological practices are permitted, the relationship between legislation about quality and that about oenological practices, regimes that limit additive use such as organic wine production and environmentally-friendly wine production (specifically the South African Integrated Production of Wine Scheme), regulation of wine importation, multilateral and EU bilateral wine trade agreements, and labelling of additives. 

The comparison shows that some basic practices such as alcohol increase by addition of substances, sweetening and deacidification and/or acidification are common to all five jurisdictions. For most functions of additives, the legislation of each jurisdiction permits some substance or process to achieve that function. Two major functions for which there are differences are type of wooding permitted, and the addition of flavour extracted from grapes and colouring. There are also differences in the specific additives and processes that are permitted. 

There are a number of different approaches for the import of wine from requiring imported wine to use the same oenological practices as the wines of the country into which it is imported, to the EU's approach of bilateral wine trade agreements with individual countries that cover permitted oenological practices, and the multilateral Mutual Acceptance Agreement on Oenological Practices. In terms of labelling of additives, all jurisdictions will soon require labelling of sulphites and Australia and New Zealand require the labelling of additional allergens.

Note on recent legislative changes: This document reflects the state of the legislation as at July 2005. It should be noted that the European Union legislation was amended by Council Regulation (EC) No 2165/2005 of 20 December 2005. This regulation now permits the use (under conditions to be determined) of oak chips, dimethyl dicarbonate for microbiological stabilisation, plant proteins for clarification, and L-ascorbic acid addition to must. Additionally, South African Government Notice No R77 of 3 February 2006 now permits the addition of ammonium sulphate, argon, diammonium glycero phosphate, evaporated milk, gold flakes, hydrogen peroxide, metatartaric acid, milk, phytates and potassium bicarbonate to wine, and the removal of water from wine using reverse osmosis. 

Document with hyperlinks - suitable for reading onscreen 

Document without hyperlinks - suitable for printing 

Back to Publications page