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FSA halts sale of low-alcohol wines

Two low-alcohol wines have been prevented from going on sale by the Food Standards Agency, which says they are illegal because they use ‘artificial’ winemaking practices. Tesco has had to withdraw the newly listed La Plume from its shelves, because the French brand has had its alcohol lowered by reverse osmosis, while Sovio, the new semi-sparkling Spanish wine made using the spinning cone, has had a movement control order placed on it.

The FSA said that under EU regulations, ‘Winemakers can sell lower-alcohol wine if they use traditional methods but not by reengineering it’. It admitted that the rules are inconsistent since US wines made using these methods can be sold in Europe through a bilateral agreement and both France and Spain can make wines using these practices, but only for the domestic market. However, said the FSA, ‘We don’t have any discretionary powers and these winemaking practices are illegal at the moment.’

It added, ‘We recognise the anomalies and are encouraging the industry and the EU to look at the issues.’

Sovio’s distributors, DB Wines, said that they are negotiating with the Wine Standards Branch of the FSA at the moment.