Chapitalization: when European Rules are not harmonized

The question of adding sugars to wine is the last, big issue on which European standards are not harmonized. Countries like France, Germany, Austria and Hungary allow it. Italy, Greece, Spain and Portugal, on the other hand, strictly forbid it. Someone, however, has just asked the government to intervene.

The birth of the Conte government led by Movimento Cinque Stelle and Lega was accompanied, in Italy, by many controversies and difficulties.

Finally, however, after 84 days of failed agreements, failed consultations and even the change of a minister at the request of the President of the Republic Mattarella, Italy has a new executive. And now many questions, not just policies, have to be resolved.

A request to the new Minister Centinaio arrived, in fact, just two days ago, and has arrived from the Assoenologi and from GoodItalianFoodTrade.

The question is about the lack of harmonization of European rules on the practice of sugaring wine, a practice allowed in countries such as France, Germany, Austria and Hungary, but strictly prohibited in Italy, France, Greece, Spain and Portugal.

The practice consists in adding saccharose to the wine to allow the increase in alcohol content when important wines are born from particular vintages, in which the latter was weak or, worse, the grapes were harvested in advance.

Sugaring, or chapitalization – as they say in France – is also carried out with low-grade sugars such as cheap beet sucrose. It privileges above all the countries of the Center-North on the market, because the costs of production of these wines are inferior to those in which it is the sun that makes most of the work.

In Italy only one wine can be sweetened and it is Marsala. For others, the low gradation can only be compensated by Adjusted Musts.

For the remaining wines, the practice of sugaring is considered by us as a fraud on the market. Yet, despite the severity with which the sugaring is punished in Italy but admitted in France and elsewhere, the issue is not harmonized at the continental level.

If the PDO rule is now common throughout Europe, the use of sugar is still a substantial difference between the producing countries.

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