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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 November 2007, 05:20 GMT
UK ban for reduced-alcohol 'wine'
A man sips wine
Sovio is off the wine list
A wine-maker has been ordered by the food watchdog to change the way it markets a reduced-alcohol drink in a row over the way it is manufactured.

The wine standards branch of the Food Standards Agency says Sovio, which contains 8% alcohol, should be removed from wine lists in the UK.

It says an experimental technique used in the reduction process means under EU law, it cannot be sold in the UK.

Surrey-based Sovio Wines now wants a judicial review to change the decision.

Sovio is a Chilean distilled wine which is shipped to Spain where the alcohol content is removed.
We are determined that the UK's wine lovers should have the same choice as consumers in France, Spain and the New World
Tony Dann, Sovio Wines head

The liquid is spun at high speeds until the alcohol separates, a small amount of which is then returned to the drink. It is then shipped to the UK for bottling and sale.

Under EU rules, it can be made in France and Spain, although export is illegal.

A glass of Sovio has about half the alcohol content of a normal wine, and was on sale in pubs and for general sale by the bottle.

Tony Dann, head of Sovio Wines, of Dorking, said: "It is very difficult to take on a powerful government agency of this kind, but we are determined that the UK's wine lovers should have the same choice as consumers in France, Spain and the New World."

A spokeswoman for the FSA said: "Sovio wines uses an experimental technique called 'spinning cone' which is currently not allowed to be sold in the UK, according to regulations set down by Europe.

"Although currently labelled as 'semi-sparkling' it does not meet the criteria of a wine product.

"If relabelled under a different name, not using the term wine in any way that may cause confusion with wine or table wine produced traditionally, it might be able to be sold in the UK, provided it complies with food labelling legislation."

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