Design Your Printed Wine Labels for EU Compliance

Corbelli Oreste
Corbelli Oreste
March 8, 2024
9 reading time
Last Update
Sample wine label with highlighted areas showcasing EU compliance features, including nutritional and ingredient information for customer awareness.

Design Your Printed Wine Labels for EU Compliance

Selecting the perfect wine bottle poses a challenge, especially given that label design influences over 70% of wine purchases, as revealed by a Wine News and Vinitaly survey in 2015. Recognizing this, it becomes evident that the new labeling regulations should not significantly alter the visual aesthetics of your bottles. In this article, we aim to explore the art of crafting an appealing wine label while considering the implications of the latest requirements for wine labeling.

Important Update: EU Regulation (EU) 2021/2117

As of December 8th, 2023, the European Union has implemented changes to its Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), impacting wine labeling requirements for products sold and consumed within the EU. All wine bottles labeled from this deadline onward, regardless of origin, must adhere to the specifications outlined in Regulation (EU) 2021/2117 by the European Parliament and the Council which includes nutritional informations and list of ingredients. These regulations aim to enhance consumer awareness by providing more comprehensive information about the wines they purchase and consume.

Environmental Labeling (from January 1, 2023 for Italy)

Starting from January 1, 2023, new environmental labeling requirements come into effect for the Italian market. It's crucial to note that these requirements are subject to change, and staying informed is key.

The E-label for compliance

Once you have these elements in mind, the next question is how to incorporate all this information into your label without overwhelming its design. The good news is that the commission has allowed wineries to include most of this information through an e-label accessible via a QR code

In our e-label, it is possible to include all the required information, eliminating the need for multiple QR codes or compromising label space. With our assistance, you can confidently focus on the production of exceptional wines, knowing that we proactively monitor and implement any necessary adjustments related to environmental labeling and future EU regulations.

The guideline

The European Commission released guidelines in the Official Journal of the EU (C series of 24/11/2023) concerning the implementation of the wine labeling provisions outlined in the 2017 Regulation (Communication No. C/2023/1190). Notably, Point No. 38 of these guidelines emphasizes that "mandatory food information" must be visibly affixed in a prominent location, ensuring it is easily visible, clearly legible, and, if applicable, indelible.

The guidelines further state that if there is no explicit reference to the electronically provided information on the label, it might be deemed as concealed mandatory information, emphasizing that the QR code must be identified on the label with the term "ingredients" and that generic terms or symbols, such as the information "i", are insufficient to fulfill these obligations. Introducing also uncertainty regarding the linguistic regime to be applied. Even though it seems that this word can be written in any EU language but must be in accordance with the main language chosen for the back label. Finnish authorities have confirmed that the allergen and energy content wording has to be in both Finnish and Swedish.

  1. When the nutritional values are made available via an electronic label, the physical label must include a statement of energy values. This energy value can be expressed in a statement of the letter “E” followed by the value.
    Example: E: 195Kj/47kcal per 100ml
  2. The nutrition label and ingredient list does not exempt the packer from reporting the presence of allergens in the usual manner already in place.
  3. Most of the compulsory information must be made available on the physical label in “the same field of view”. This includes:
  • Ingredient list & Nutritional declaration
  • Can be provided via a QR code
  • Category of wine
  • Alcohol percentage
  • Indication of provenance/origin
  • The name of the bottler
  • For sparkling wines: name of producer/vendor
  • Energy value
  • Allergens and intolerances (clearly distinguishable)

Mandatory information that can be made available outside the same field of view is:

  • Importers
  • Lot numbers
  • Minimum date of durability (best before date)

QR code printing

QR codes for labeling should be printed in a size that makes it possible to scan them. A minimum of 1cm by 1cm is likely to be required. It is often incorporated into the back label design along with other required product information. Every QR code must have a surrounding "quiet" zone, typically four times the size of a single cell within the code (e.g., 1.5 mm for a 10 mm QR code). This clear space enhances scanning accuracy.

Color and Contrast: For best results, use a black QR code on a white background. While dark colors on light backgrounds or the other way round, may work. It's advisable to test them with standard QR code reader apps.

Shape: QR codes are inherently square-shaped. However, creative embedding of square QR codes within non-square shapes, like rotated squares or parallelograms, can be explored. Always maintain the necessary quiet zone in such cases.

Resolution: To ensure successful scans by consumers, your QR code image should be printable at 300 dpi or higher. High resolution prevents scanning issues and maintains code integrity.

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How to design the label accordingly

Understanding Your Target Audience

Understanding your target market and the price range of your product is fundamental. Whether catering to a younger audience with budget-friendly wines or a sophisticated clientele with higher-priced selections, the label design should align with these demographics.
Younger audience and affordable wines: Modern design, vibrant colors, and engaging fonts.
Refined, higher-priced wines: Elegant, simple design with sophisticated fonts and illustrations.


Consider the bottle shape and size when designing the label.
Maintain balance and harmony between the label, bottle, cork, and capsule.
Pay attention to proportions, ensuring that labels fit appropriately and convey essential information without overcrowding.

Adhering to Regulations

When designing a wine label, adherence to both design and waste disposal regulations is imperative. Key mandatory label specifications include font size, with no text smaller than 1.2 mm. Essential information must be within the same visual field for easy reading, ensuring legibility without rotating the container.

Here's a concise list of mandatory label elements:

  1. Product Category: Denomination (IGT, IGP, DOC, DOP, DOCG), presented in full or abbreviated form. Colors and grape varieties can be mentioned if specified in production regulations.
  2. Traditional Mentions: Mandatory for DO and IG wines, as outlined in production regulations (e.g., Passito, Riserva, Superiore).
  3. Producer and Bottler Information: Full legal name, including address of the registered office and facility. If another cellar bottles the wine, the unique code from the Central Inspectorate for Quality Protection and Fraud Repression of agri-food products (ICQRF) must be included.
  4. Alcohol Volume: Actual percentage volume, followed by the abbreviation "vol" (e.g., 14.5% vol).
  5. Origin Indication: Country of origin (e.g., Produced in Italy).
  6. Vintage: Mandatory for DOC and DOCG wines, excluding "Spumante" not labeled as Millesimato, unless specified in production regulations.
  7. Importer Name and Address: For imported wines.
  8. Sugar Content: Mandatory for Sparkling Wines (e.g., Zero Dosage or Pas Dosé, Brut, Extra Dry, Sweet).
  9. Nominal Volume: Bottle capacity, expressed in cl, ml, or liters. Font size varies based on bottle capacity.
  10. Prepackaged Packaging Compliance: The "℮" symbol, mandatory for all packaged foods, with a minimum character height of 3mm.
  11. Allergen Indication: Presence indicated with "Contains" (e.g., Contains Sulfites), mandatory in official languages of countries where the product is marketed, both EU and non-EU.
  12. Lot Number: Indicated with an initial "L," without punctuation (e.g., L1234).
  13. Conformity Mark: For organic or biodynamic wine, it must be approved and sent by the certifying body.

Note: Further mandatory elements may be specified by various production regulations, requiring additional diligence and thorough research.

Design Styles

Classic: Vintage look with calligraphic fonts, often used by historic wineries.
Modern: Contemporary images, fonts, abstract colors, and geometric shapes to attract younger consumers.
Minimalist/Flat Design: Simplified elements, focusing on essential details, logos, and fonts.
Typographic: Font-driven design with no illustrations.

Choose easily readable fonts, considering the label size.
Select colors based on the chosen style and the emotions you want to evoke.

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