EU Wine Making Guidelines

Perhaps most importantly, the regulations define wine as "the product obtained exclusively from the total or partial alcoholic fermentation of fresh grapes, whether or not crushed, or of grape must". Wine can only be made from grape varieties listed as allowed, and only those vine varieties may be planted for commercial purposes. Each EU member state draws up such lists of varieties, which may only contain purebred Vitis vinifera varieties, and certain crosses between Vitis vinifera and other species of the Vitis genus. Thus, uncrossed so-called American vines, such as Vitis labrusca, may not be used for wine and are not allowed in EU vineyards.


Many winemaking practices depend on the classification of the wine - TW or QWpsr. Some practices also depend on where within EU the grapes are grown, since typical challenges to winemakers in colder or hotter climates are somewhat different. The defined European Union wine growing zones are used to regulate these practices, but some leeway is given for authorizing deviations in vintages of exceptional climatic conditions.

  • Minimum ripeness of grapes to be used for wine.
  • Minimum alcohol content for wine, and maximum alcohol content of non-fortified wine.
  • Chaptalisation the term used by the regulations,  is permitted and practiced in form of enrichment as addition of dry sugar (sucrose) to the grape must. An upper limit is set, dependent on the wine growing zone, both on the extent of chaptalisation and the maximum alcohol level that may be achieved by chaptalisation.
  • Deacidification, dependent on the wine growing zone.
  • The use of sweet reserve (often referred to by its German name, Süßreserve), which is more restricted if the wine is also chaptalised.
  • The amount of sulphur dioxide in the wine, the allowable amount of which depends on the colour and sweetness of wine.

More information regarding EU wine making regulation can be found hereunder Annex III and IV.