Pint-sized bottles of wine to be sold after Brexit reviewon December 27, 2023 at 10:10 am

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The new 568ml size will offer more choice for customers, the Department for Business and Trade says.

Woman buying vegetables at a marketImage source, Getty Images

The government has confirmed it is not planning to change the rules on selling in imperial measures after Brexit.

Ministers looked at changing laws inherited from the EU that mean traders can use Britain’s traditional weighing system only alongside the metric one.

But they have now decided not to, after nearly 99% of respondents to an official consultation said they were happy with kilos and litres.

However, post-Brexit changes are on the way for wine sold in shops.

Legislation to be tabled in the new year will allow still and sparkling wine to be sold in “pint-sized” 568ml bottles for the first time.

It will also allow still wine to be sold in 200ml containers, potentially paving the way for an expansion in the canned wine market.

EU rules meant traders could display imperial measurements – such as pounds and ounces – only alongside metric, and they could not be more prominent.

They hit the headlines in 2001 following the prosecution of the “metric martyrs”, a group of market traders convicted of selling goods using only imperial, although they were not enforced rigorously afterwards.

The rules were initially copied over after Brexit, but Boris Johnson’s government subsequently announced they would be reviewed as part of a plans to “capitalise on the benefits of Brexit”.

The then-prime minister pledged to change the rules ahead of the 2019 election, calling imperial measurements an “ancient liberty” and adding he saw “no reason why people should be prosecuted” for using them.

But the government has now said it will not change the rules, after 98.7% of respondents to a consultation favoured using metric as the main measurement unit for sales, as now, or as the only unit.

Prosecco

Image source, Getty Images

However, it has announced changes to restrictions the UK copied over from the EU on how wine is sold in shops and supermarkets, in a bid to give consumers a wider range of options.

The rules will be altered to allow sparkling wines to be sold in 500ml bottles, between a standard full (750ml) and half (375ml) size.

Still wine will also be allowed to be sold in a new 200ml container size – adding to the range of smaller permissible sizes and perhaps reflecting demand from producers to sell a greater range of canned wines.

The government also said it would introduce a new 568ml “pint-sized” bottle size for sparkling wine, alongside the 500ml size.

Pint-sized bottles for champagne were said to be the favourite size of British wartime leader Sir Winston Churchill, and bringing them back has previously caught the attention of some newspapers.

However, the new sizes will apply only to wine sold in shops in the UK, and it remains to be seen what the demand will be for pint-sized wine bottles among producers and bottlers.

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