What’s your tolerance?

Label alcohol tolerance by market 

20 Sep 2017
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An indication of alcoholic strength on wine labels is mandatory in the majority of markets.

However, there is also a level of tolerance applied to the difference between the labelled alcohol content and actual alcohol content to account for variations in testing methods and different alcohol concentrations resulting from different blends.

In Australia, the labelling tolerance for the alcohol statement depends on the individual product.

For a wine or wine product (including sparkling or carbonated wines) between 1.15% and 6.5% alcohol by volume, there is a labelling tolerance of 0.5%. For a wine or wine product (again, including sparkling or carbonated wines) above 6.5% alcohol by volume, the labelling tolerance is 1.5%. Fortified wines (which, by definition are between 15% and 22% alcohol by volume) have a labelling tolerance of 0.5%.

Therefore, it is permissible for the actual alcohol of a table wine labelled as ’13% alc/vol’ to be as low as 11.5%, or as high as 14.5%. Further details on can be found on domestic labelling requirements here.

It is a condition of export that wines must first and foremost comply with Australian labelling rules. However, internationally, the labelling rules relating to tolerances for alcohol statements vary from market to market.

Wine Australia’s export assistance team has created the below summary of alcohol labelling tolerance for a number of export markets. Where alcohol tolerances for specific markets are not listed, exporters should consult with their agent or importer in the market.

Wine Australia publishes Export Market Guides which go into further detail of market-specific requirements, duties and taxes, wine standards, labelling requirements, and import and certification requirements.

The Export Market Guides are an essential reference tool for exporters and Wine Australia’s export assistance team are available for any additional exporting queries for the Australian wine sector.  

 

Market Tolerance (%) Notes
Australia 0.5 Table wines and wine products between 1.15% and 6.5% alcohol by volume
  1.5 Table wines and wine products greater than 6.5% alcohol by volume
  0.5 Fortified wine
Brazil Not Specified – contact importer/agent in market  
Cambodia Not Specified – contact importer/agent in market  
Canada 1 For wines below 16%
  0.5 For wines above 16%
Chile 0.5 See guide for more information on types of products
China 1  
European Union (EU) 0.8  
Fiji 1.5  
Hong Kong 1.5  
India 1.5  
Indonesia Not Specified – contact importer/agent in market  
Japan 1 The label must list the ethyl alcohol content at 15°C as a percentage of total volume rounded to the nearest percentage point. Specific formatting applies to alcohol labelling, see export market guide for more information
Korea 0.5  
Malaysia Not Specified – contact importer/agent in market  
Mexico Not Specified – contact importer/agent in market  
Myanmar 1.5  
New Zealand 1.5 Table wine
  0.5 Fortified wine
Nigeria 1.5  
Norway 0.8  
Papua New Guinea 1.5  
Philippines Not Specified – contact importer/agent in market  
Qatar 1.5  
Russia 1 For wine, sparkling wine, semi-sparkling wine and carbonated wine
  0.5 For aromatised wine, special wine & special fruit wine
Singapore 1.5  
South Africa 1  
Sri Lanka 1.5  
Switzerland 0.5  
Taiwan 1 Alcohol products other than distilled spirits including wine
  0.5 Distilled spirits
Thailand Not Specified – contact importer/agent in market  
Turkey 0.8 For table wines aged 3+ years claiming a vintage
  0.5 For all beverages with an alcohol content of > 1%, see export market guide for specific formatting
UAE 1.5  
United Kingdom 0.8  
USA 1.5 For wines below 14% alcohol by volume
  1 For wines above 14% alcohol by volume
Vietnam Not Specified – contact importer/agent in market