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You’ve got the glass, but do you have the wine?

Sweet wine from New Zealand is banned under EU law.

The problem for both New Zealand and Canadian sweet wine producers centres around the presumed alcoholic strength of their wines says John Waugh, Senior Trade Commissioner for the New Zealand Trade Development Board. "Whilst the European Community allows for the import into the EC of table wines with an actual alcoholic strength by volume of up to 15 percent, Community rules (specifically Article 70/1/b) of Regulation EEC 822/87, provide that wine cannot be marketed or sold as wine within the EU if its total alcoholic strength--the sum of actual and potential strength (if the residual sugar were fermented)--exceeds 15 percent," explains Waugh.

He continues. "New Zealand sweet wines contain naturally high levels of residual sugar, reflecting their quality and have high potential alcohol strength accordingly," he says. "Sweet wine production in New Zealand is based on the natural infection of grapes with the fungus Botrytis cinerea thanks to the climatic conditions in the country."

However, there are anomalies within the EU regulations, Waugh points out. "The anomaly between a trade access binding for actual alcoholic strength means that New Zealand sweet wines are allowed into the Community but then cannot be offered for sale to the consumer."

Some of the finest sweet wines come from the new world and its such a shame that they are not available in the UK, particularly for use in the Riedel Sommeliers Sauternes glass, the finest sweet wine glass in the world.

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