All goods marketed in Poland are subject to the European Union’s general legislation on packaging and liability.
• Glass bottles are the most common type of wine packaging. Glass bottles are usually colored to reduce the effect of UV light and typically contain 0.75 liter, but there is a growing trend in Poland toward sales of wine in one-liter bottles. In Poland, Bag-in-Box (BiB) packaging is hardly used for premium wine; it only had some success in the on-trade.
• Screw caps are still associated with cheap alcoholic beverages (e.g. vodka) and therefore not preferred by most Polish wine consumers. Traditional corked bottles are most common, especially in the premium wine segment.
• Bottles for sparkling wines need to be strong enough to withstand the pressure resulting from the high CO2 levels.
Packaging-related quality problems with bulk wine hampered development of bulk wine trade for a long time. Recent improvements in storage technology, handling facilities, and quality protocols have contributed to better-quality preservation. These developments have caused an explosive growth in the trade of bulk wines, especially among the international brands.
Different types of packaging are available for the transport of bulk wine. The two most common are:
• Flexi-tanks – disposable plastic bags intended for installation in a standard 20-ft shipping container.
• ISO tanks – reusable steel tanks, which need to be cleaned between shipments. ISO tanks offer all the advantages of flexi-tanks, but are more polluting and expensive in transport due to higher weight. One advantage of an ISO tank is its reliability; they have a lower risk of defects compared to flexi-tanks.
Defective seals or the use of permeable material can lead to oxidation, which will degrade the wine. This can result in negative taste alterations and a shorter shelf life.
Food Contact Materials
Toxic substances can be found in the glass and decoration of wine bottles. Wine producers also sometimes opt for different packaging options. Specific health control provisions apply to consumer packaging materials that come into contact with food (e.g. bottles, containers). For example, food contact materials made from recycled or other plastic and ceramic must be manufactured in a manner that prevents them from transferring constituents to food in quantities that could endanger human health, change the composition of the food in an unacceptable way or cause deterioration in the flavor and odor of foodstuffs. Commonly restricted substances include vinyl chloride monomer N-nitrosamines, N-nitrosatable BADGE, NOGE, BFDGE and heavy metals.
There are strict rules on which information should be shown on the label and how this information has to be presented. The European Union has set compulsory labelling particulars for wine. Wine packaging labels should include the following information:
• The name of the Protected Denomination of Origin (PDO), Protected Geographical Indication (PGI), Wine of ‘producing country’, Produced in ‘producing country’, Product of ‘producing country’,
• Actual Alcoholic Strength (AAS),
• Nominal volume,
• Lot number,
• Sugar content (for sparkling wines),
• Importer details, and
• Allergenic ingredients.
Mandatory information must appear in the same field of vision on the container in such a way that all the information (except the lot number, importer’s details and allergens) is readable without having to turn the container. It must be clearly distinguishable from surrounding text or graphics.
Wine packaging labels may include the following additional information, which is left to the discretion of the manufacturer or the export destination country:
• Parties participating in the marketing process,
• Name of viticulture holding (château, quinta, finca, tenuta, Weingut, manor, estate, etc.)
• Varietal name (if the wine is produced from at least 75% of grapes of that varietal; two names mentioned if the wine comes entirely from those two varietals; more than two names accompanied by the percentage of composition),
• Vintage or harvest year,
• Type of wine (dry, medium dry, mellow or semi-sweet and sweet),
• The ageing of wine,
• Traditional terms of quality,
• Medals and distinctions,
• Other terms (such as history of wine or commercial firm, consumer advice, sensory condition, wine color, natural conditions or vine growing techniques, etc.)
Only information from the compulsory and optional labelling particulars are allowed on wine packages. With the exception of allergen information, which must appear in Polish, the labeling requirements above may appear in one or more of the official languages of the EU. Furthermore, there are rules for the use of certain bottle shapes which may only be used for certain types of wine.
Pre-packed products that contain allergens must be labelled in such a way that the presence of allergens is clearly visible to consumers. Under Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011, allergens must be highlighted in the list of ingredients. Requirements concerning allergen information also apply to foods that are not pre-packed, including those sold in restaurants and cafés.
The information on allergenic ingredients in wine products should be mentioned in the language of the target market (i.e. Polish) and include the following information:
• All wines containing over 10 milligrams of sulphite per liter must be labelled with the indication ‘Contains sulphites’. This information is crucial for individuals who are sensitive to sulphites and experience problems such as shortness of breath, coughing, and wheezing. To accommodate these consumers, wines with only a few mg or no sulphite could indicate that on the label.
• If egg and milk derivatives are used, it must also be mentioned on the label.