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A rosé by any other name

The popular rosé styles currently called White Zinfandel and White Grenache are having to change their names. The reason is that both have fallen foul of EU labelling regulations because neither are white wines and are, therefore, seen as misinterpretations of the vine variety.

According to Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), these labelling descriptions have been a long-standing issue and the EU regulation covering them actually came into effect back in 2003. Since then it appears that these rosé wines, made from red grapes in what the Americans call a ‘white’ style, have been existing in the grey area of what is allowed. Now, however, the EU is adamant that the names must go.

Blossom Hill, the biggest brand of these types of wines in the UK, is already set to change its labels and, from the beginning of next year, the bottles will be called Zinfandel Rosé and Grenache Rosé instead. Diageo, who distributes the wine in the UK, doesn’t think consumers will be too confused as its research suggests drinkers regard both as rosé wines anyway.

However, Brown-Forman UK, distributor of the Fetzer brand, sees it as just another case of the law being an ass. Marketing director Simon Legge said he doesn’t believe consumers are being misled at the moment. ‘The Great British public has some understanding of what these wines are about because they have been around so long and they are an incredibly successful section of the market.’

Certainly, it’s a market that’s worth around £130 million a year in the UK, according the AC Nielsen, and growing. In fact, sales of White Shiraz were up 167 per cent in the past year. That’s a lot of people who are familiar with buying wines labelled ‘White’ something even though they are pink. But Defra hopes that next month’s EU wine reforms might allow more flexibility in some of the labelling issues and, who knows, maybe these established terms will get a reprieve.