Labelling Requirements for Alcoholic Beverages

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Table of Contents

Overview

An alcoholic beverage (definition) is considered to be a beverage containing 1.1% or more alcohol by volume. Alcoholic beverages with prescribed standards in Division 2 of Part B of the Food and Drug Regulations include whisky, rum, gin, brandy, liqueurs and spirituous cordials, vodka, tequila, mezcal, wine, cider and beer. This section addresses labelling requirements for alcoholic beverages both with and without prescribed standards.

Alcoholic beverages are subject to the Food and Drugs Act (FDA), the Food and Drug Regulations (FDR) and the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act (CPLA) and Consumer Packaging and Labelling Regulations (CPLR). Depending on the type of alcoholic beverage, other federal Acts or Regulations not enforced by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) may also apply, such as the Spirit Drinks Trade Act. In addition, provincial and territorial regulations may have labelling requirements for alcoholic beverages that must be met for products sold in that province or territory.

The labelling requirements detailed in the following sections are specific to alcoholic beverages. They are in addition to the core labelling and voluntary claims and statements requirements of the Industry Labelling Tool that apply to all prepackaged foods.

Common Name

Many alcoholic beverages have a standard of identity or composition prescribed in Division 2 of the FDR. For beverages meeting one of these standards, the common name appearing in bold face type in the regulations must be used if that beverage has been imported or is intended for interprovincial trade.

The common name for an alcoholic beverage without a prescribed standard is the name by which the food is generally known or, when none is available, a name that describes the true nature of the product.

Generic terms such as "beverage", "drink", "cooler", "spirit", "mix", "liquor", as appropriate, are accepted in the common names of unstandardized foods. Examples:

  • "Alcoholic beverage" or "malt beverage" are acceptable common names for a product that does not meet the malt liquor standards but is made from ingredients such as malt, hops and corn syrup, and has an alcohol content of 1.1% alc./vol. or more;
  • "Sugar cane spirit" is acceptable as a common name for an unstandardized product made from the distillation of fermented sugar cane juice;
  • "Maple flavoured liquor" is an acceptable common name for a product made from fruit spirit and maple syrup. Alternatively, this product could be called "fruit spirit with maple syrup".

The Common Name for Beer and Common Name for Wine sections provide more information on common names for those specific types of alcoholic beverages.

For more information, including with respect to the placement and type height of the common name declaration, refer to Common Name.

Geographic Origin – Common Name

Some names may be protected as Geographical Indications under international agreements or law. A Geographical Indication describes a product which has a quality, reputation or other characteristic that is essentially attributable to its geographic origin.

An alcoholic beverage name appearing on the List of Geographical Indications for Wines and Spirits maintained by the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) must originate from the geographical region after which it is named and cannot be modified by the addition of qualifiers such as "Canadian Champagne" or "California Burgundy". A list of Geographical Indications eligible for protection and the country of the responsible authority can be found in the List of Geographical Indications for Wines and Spirits on the CIPO website.

Names of Spirits – Distinctive Products

Under the terms of the Agreement Between Canada and the European Community on Trade in Wines and Spirit Drinks, Canada agreed to restrict the use of certain spirit drink names to spirit drinks originating from specific countries only. Protection of these spirit drink names is provided for in Canada in the Spirit Drinks Trade Act (SDTA) which is administered by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC). A list of spirit drink names, protected under the SDTA, that can only be used to describe a product if the product originates in a specific geographic area can be found on AAFC website.

Language Requirements – Common Name

The common name must appear on food labels in English and French [B.01.012(2), FDR; 6(2), CPLR]. The following alcoholic beverage common names are considered bilingual common names under section B.01.012(10) of the FDR:

Advocaat or Advokaat, Akvavit, Americano, Anisette, Apricot Brandy Liqueur, Aquavit, Armagnac, Bourbon, Brandy, Calvados, Campari, Chartreuse, Cherry Brandy Liqueur, Crème de Banane, Crème de Bleuets, Crème de Cacao, Crème de Cassis, Crème de Menthe, Crème de Noyau, Curaçao Orange, Dry Gin, Fior d'Alpe, Grappa, Highland Whisky, Irish Whisky, Kirsch, Kummel, Liqueur de Fraise, Mandarinette, Manhattan, Marc, Martini, Ouzo, Pastis, Peach Brandy Liqueur, Poire William, Prunelle de Bourgogne, Rye Whisky, Scotch Whisky, Tequila, Triple Sec, Strega, Sake or Saki, Slivovitz, Sloe Gin.

List of Ingredients – Alcoholic Beverages

Standardized alcoholic beverages (those with compositional standards in Division 2 of the FDR such as beer, wine, and rum) and bourbon whiskey are exempt from the requirement to show a list of ingredients on the label [B.01.008(2)(f), FDR].

Unstandardized alcoholic beverages (those for which there is no standard in Division 2 of the FDR) require a complete list of ingredients and their components [B.01.008(1)(b), FDR]. Therefore, products such as sake, cocktails (martinis, mojitos, etc.), pernod, and ouzo require a list of ingredients.

For more information on declaring the list of ingredients when required, refer to List of Ingredients and Allergens.

For information specific to beer, see List of Ingredients and Food Allergen, Gluten and Added Sulphite Labelling for Beer.

Food Allergens, Gluten and Added Sulphite Labelling – Alcoholic Beverages

Added allergens, gluten sources and sulphites at a level of 10 ppm or more must be declared when present in alcoholic beverages [B.01.010(2), FDR]. This requirement applies to bourbon whisky and standardized alcoholic beverages, even though these are exempt from declaring a list of ingredients [B.01.008(2)(f), FDR]. It also applies to unstandardized alcoholic beverages. Beer, ale, stout, porter and malt liquor are exempt from the requirement to declare food allergen, gluten or added sulphites unless a list of ingredients is shown on the product's label [B.01.010.1(5), FDR]. Also see List of Ingredients and Food Allergen, Gluten and Added Sulphite Labelling for Beer.

For more information refer to List of Ingredients and Allergens.

Nutrition Labelling – Alcoholic Beverages

Beverages with an alcohol content of more than 0.5% are usually exempt from carrying a Nutrition Facts table [B.01.401(2)(b)(i), FDR].

This exemption may be lost in certain situations, for example when a nutrient content claim is made or when an unstandardized alcoholic beverage contains added sucralose, aspartame or acesulfame-potassium. For more information, refer to Reasons for Losing the Exemption. Alcoholic beverages with added sweeteners are also required to meet the labelling requirements for these artificial sweeteners.

The alcohol by volume declaration is not considered to be a nutrient content claim and therefore does not trigger nutrition labelling [B.01.502(2)(j), FDR].

For more information refer to Nutrition Labelling.

Alcohol by Volume Declaration

All alcoholic beverages containing 1.1 percent or more alcohol by volume must declare the percentage by volume of alcohol contained in the product [B.02.003, FDR].

The alcohol by volume declaration must be that of the product as sold.

Example:
If a product is sold in a multiple serving bottle with two compartments, containing two different liquors with different contents of alcohol by volume and the product is intended to be poured in such a manner as to form a layered drink of the two liquors, it is not acceptable to declare on the main panel the single alcohol content of the final beverage, when poured according to instructions, and to declare the individual alcohol content of the two different liquors on the back label. Due to the variability of proportions that could occur when the beverage is poured, the separate alcohol by volume declarations are required as the main panel declaration. The intended combined declaration may be shown voluntarily elsewhere on the label.

Manner of Declaring – Alcohol by Volume Declaration

The percentage by volume of alcohol must be shown as "X % alcohol by volume" or be abbreviated "X % alc./vol." or X% alc/vol. Alternatively, the percentage may be in the middle of the declaration and shown preceded by the abbreviation "alc." or "alc" and followed by the abbreviation "vol." or "vol" (for example: "alc X% vol" or "alc. X% vol.") [B.02.003, FDR].

Location – Alcohol by Volume Declaration

The alcohol by volume declaration must be shown on the principal display panel (definition) [B.02.003, FDR]. For wine containers, the principal display surface (definition) includes any area, excluding its top and bottom, that can be seen without having to turn the container [CPLR 2(1)].

Language – Alcohol by Volume Declaration

The alcohol by volume declaration must be shown in both English and French [B.01.012(2), FDR]. The French translation is "X % d'alcool par volume". When abbreviated, the statements "X % alc./vol.", "X% alc/vol", "alc X% vol" and "alc. X% vol." are fully bilingual.

Advertising – Alcoholic Beverages

Radio and television advertising for alcoholic beverages is regulated under the Radio Regulations and Television Broadcasting Regulations, under the Broadcasting Act. Broadcasters must adhere to the Code for Broadcast Advertising of Alcoholic Beverages to maintain a Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunication Commission (CRTC) license. In response to a request from the alcoholic beverage advertisers and the broadcasters, Advertising Standards Canada (ASC) has established the Alcoholic Beverage Advertising Clearance Section to review and assign a clearance approval number to advertising copy.

Voluntary Claims & Statements – Alcoholic Beverages

Use of the Term "Light"

"Light" may be used to describe the following alcoholic beverages which contain the alcohol levels indicated in the table below:

Use of the Term "Light"
Alcoholic Beverage Alcohol by Volume
Cider 4% or less
Wine 9% or less
Whisky 25% or less

In the case of the above alcoholic beverages, it is assumed that through long-established practice, most consumers understand "light" to be a reference to lower alcohol content. No further qualification of "light" is required on labels and in advertisements of these products provided that the declaration of the percentage of alcohol by volume appears prominently on the principal display panel of the label, and that "light" is not used to refer to some other aspect or characteristic of these products.

If "light" is used to describe a reduction in some constituent other than alcohol, then it must satisfy the conditions established by the regulations for nutrient content claims for light as a sensory characteristic or light as a reference to the reduction in fat or of energy [B.01.502, B.01.513, FDR]. In addition, any impression created by the use of a "light" claim must not be misleading as per subsection 5(1) of the FDA and section 7 of the CPLA.

For beer, ale, porter and stout, section B.02.132 of the FDR requires the use of specific terms, such as "extra light" and "light", based on the alcohol content. See Common Name for Beer for more information on the use of the term "light" in reference to these products.

Low Alcohol

"Low alcohol" is an acceptable claim for a product with less than 1.1% alcohol by volume. "Contains less than (naming the percentage alcohol)" is also acceptable on low alcohol products.

Vodka-Flavoured Claims

Alcoholic beverages to which artificial flavouring preparations have been added to simulate the "taste" or sensory experience of vodka, but do not contain vodka, are considered acceptable, provided that it is clearly and prominently communicated to consumers that "Vodka flavoured" is referring to an artificial flavouring preparation rather than the addition of vodka as an ingredient. As with all products, the label and advertising cannot be false or misleading, or create an erroneous impression regarding the composition of the product.

Age Claims

It is recognized that aging plays a key role in the traditional brewing process. If increasing the time taken for the manufacturing process results in definite taste characteristics, certain claims relating to this aging process may be acceptable.

When materials introduced during processing contribute detectable characteristics to the final product, references to taste may also be made (for example, Beechwood aged taste). The sections Age Claims for Brandy, Age Claims for Gin, Age Claims for Rum and Age Claims for Whisky provide more details on the use of age claims for these products.

Foreign Certificates of Age and Authenticity

Foreign certificates of age and authenticity for alcoholic beverages are accepted when they have been issued by a foreign government. Similar treatment is given to certificates issued by third parties that are recognized as valid by government officials of the issuing country. Certificates may be questioned when such acceptance is not evident.

Use of the Term "Dry"

In the case of alcoholic beverages, the term "dry" is not regarded as a sugar content claim and does not trigger the application of the Nutrition Facts table, providing no other statements or claims are made about the sugar content. The sections Use of the Term "Dry" for Gin, Use of the Term "Dry" for Liqueur, Use of the Term "Dry" for Rum, Use of the Term "Dry" for Whisky, Use of the Term "Dry" for Vodka and Use of the Term "Dry" for Wine provide more details on the use of "dry" claims for these products.

Government Warning on Imported Alcoholic Beverages

The following statement is acceptable in Canada. It is currently required in the U.S. on the labels of alcoholic beverages.

"Government Warning: In accordance to the Surgeon General, women should not drink alcoholic beverages during pregnancy because of the risk of birth defects. Consumption of alcoholic beverages impairs your ability to drive a car or operate machinery and may cause health problems."

Product Specific Information for Beer

Common Name for Beer

Section B.02.132 of the FDR establishes mandatory common names or qualified common names as outlined below for various standardized beer products based upon alcohol content.

Common Names
Percentage of Alcohol by Volume Qualified Common Name or Common Name
1.1 to 2.5 Extra Light Beer, Extra Light Ale, Extra Light Stout, Extra Light Porter
2.6 to 4.0 Light Beer, Light Ale, Light Stout, Light Porter
4.1 to 5.5 Beer, Ale, Stout, Porter
5.6 to 8.5 Strong Beer, Strong Ale, Strong Stout, Strong Porter, Malt Liqueur
8.6 or more Extra Strong Beer, Extra Strong Ale, Extra Strong Stout, Extra Strong Porter, Strong Malt Liqueur
Lager

"Lager" is not an acceptable common name as prescribed by section B.02.132 of the FDR. The common name "beer" must be listed in addition to the description "lager".

Spiced Beer

Beer spiced with a spice or herb may be described using a common name such as "Beer with (common or class name of the ingredients)". The common name in this case could also be considered a list of ingredients.

Low Alcohol Beer

"0.4% Alcohol Beer" is an acceptable common name for a beer that meets the Food and Drug Regulations' standard for beer but contains 0.4% alcohol. Section B.02.132 of the Regulations establishes common names for beer and ale that contain 1.1 percent alcohol or more, (extra light beer to extra strong beer). Since there are no requirements for the common name of beers that contain less than 1.1 percent alcohol, this common name considered to reflect the nature of the product.

Carbohydrate Matter

Sections B.02.130 and B.02.131 of the FDR set the standards for beer and ale, and indicate that several ingredients may be added "during the course of manufacture". These ingredients include carbohydrate matter, preservatives and fining agents.

The intended function of "carbohydrate matter" when added to beer or ale is not specified in regulation. Although there is no regulatory definition for "carbohydrate matter", this term is interpreted to mean an ingredient whose single largest component is carbohydrate and which is used to assist in fermentation, or to enhance the flavour, body, or colour of the product. As such, carbohydrate matter includes sources of carbohydrate (e.g. maltose, lactose, maple syrup, honey, etc.) used to supplement available fermentable sugars. It also includes other simple or complex carbohydrates such as fruit and fruit juice, corn, rice, wheat, barley, and some spices or herbs.

For example, a spice whose single largest component is carbohydrate would be considered to be "carbohydrate matter". Therefore, the addition of such an ingredient to standardized beer and ale would be in compliance with section B.02.130 and B.02.131 of the FDR. Manufacturers must be able to demonstrate that a spice or other ingredient is composed primarily of carbohydrate matter, i.e. that carbohydrate is the largest single component of the ingredient.

"During the course of manufacture" in the beer and ale standards is interpreted to include both during fermentation and post-fermentation processing up to and including the packaging of the final product. Therefore, a beer or ale product with carbohydrate matter added at any time during the course of manufacture would be in compliance with B.02.130 or B.02.131 of the FDR and would be considered a standardized product.

See List of Ingredients and Food Allergen, Gluten and Added Sulphite Labelling for Beer for information on exemptions from these requirements for standardized beer and ale.

Flavoured Beer

The standards for beer and ale [B.02.130, B.02.131, FDR] provide for the addition of "carbohydrate matter". However, these do not provide for the addition of flavouring preparations. If an extract or flavouring preparation that is not composed primarily of carbohydrate matter (e.g. essential oils, distillates, or chemically based synthetic flavours) is added to beer, it becomes an unstandardized alcoholic beverage that requires an appropriate common name (e.g. beer with added cherry flavour), a list of ingredients and allergen labelling.

Ice Beer

Ice beer is an acceptable claim for a beer subjected to the process of freezing and removal of the ice crystals so formed. The common name used for such a product must be based on the alcohol content of the beverage as outlined in above in Common Name for Beer, with "ice" as optional additional information.

List of Ingredients and Food Allergen, Gluten and Added Sulphite Labelling for Beer

Standardized beers and ales are exempt from the requirement to provide a list of ingredients and from allergen labelling [B.01.008 (2)(f), B.01.010.1(5), FDR]. This exemption stands when permitted ingredients, like spices made primarily of carbohydrate, are highlighted on the label, such as in a romance statement (advertising/marketing statement) or brand name, with the following exceptions:

  1. When the ingredient highlighting gives the impression that it constitutes a full list of ingredients, the ingredient listing would need to follow the requirements set out in the regulations.
  2. Any list of ingredients that is voluntarily provided must be complete, and declare all priority allergens and gluten sources, and added sulphites when present at 10 ppm or more.
  3. If a "Contains" statement is declared on the label of a beer or ale, and that statement could be mistaken for an allergen, gluten or sulphite declaration, then that "Contains" statement must be complete for all priority allergens and gluten sources, and sulphites when present at 10 ppm or more.

Use of the Term "Light" for Beer

For information refer to Common Name for Beer and Use of the Term "Light".

Gluten-Free Beer

For information refer to Gluten-Free Beer.

Product Specific Information for Brandy

Country of Origin for Brandy

Brandy that is wholly distilled in a country other than Canada requires a country of origin declaration on the label [B.02.060, FDR]. This declaration must be shown in both English and French [B.01.012(2), FDR]. A minimum type height of 1.6 mm based on the lowercase "o" is considered to meet the legibility requirements of the Food and Drug Regulations [A.01.016, FDR]. The declaration may be shown on any part of the label, other than that applied to the bottom of the container [B.01.005(1), FDR].

As the standards for Armagnac [B.02.051, FDR] and Cognac [B.02.053, FDR] require these products to originate from a specific area, the common name implies a specific origin and a country of origin statement is not considered mandatory for these two products.

Age Claims for Brandy

Claims regarding the age of brandy are limited to the time the brandy was stored in small wood, (defined as casks or barrels) of not greater than 700 litres capacity [B.02.001, FDR] or in other wooden containers. Brandy other than Armagnac, Canadian Brandy, Cognac, Dried Fruit Brandy, Fruit Brandy, Grappa, Lees Brandy, and Pomace or Marc, including any domestic or imported spirit added as flavouring, must be aged and held in small wood for at least 6 months or in wooden containers for at least one year [B.02.061, FDR].

See also Age Claims for general information, including on foreign certificates of age and authenticity.

Product Specific Information for Gin

Age Claims for Gin

Claims regarding the age of gin are prohibited with the exception that gin that has been held in suitable containers may bear a label declaration to that effect [B.02.043, FDR].

See also Age Claims for general information, including on foreign certificates of age and authenticity.

Use of the Term "Dry" for Gin

Gin may be labelled or advertised as "Dry Gin" or "London Dry Gin" if sweetening agents have not been added [B.02.041(c), FDR]. The standard for "Gin" provides for the addition of a sweetening agent [B.02.041(b)(ii), FDR].

See also Use of the Term "Dry" for general information on dry claims for all alcoholic beverages.

Product Specific Information for Liqueur

Common Name for Liqueur

When the flavour is shown on the label of a liqueur, the flavour designation becomes part of the common name and therefore should be grouped with the word "liqueur". When there is no indication of the flavour, the word "liqueur" suffices as the common name.

Liqueur with Cream
An alcoholic beverage is not permitted to use the common name "liqueur" if it contains cream as an ingredient, as cream is not permitted in the liqueur standard [B.02.070, FDR]. Cream cannot be added indirectly as a flavouring preparation as it is not considered to be a flavouring preparation. Any addition of cream makes the final product an unstandardized alcoholic beverage which requires a list of ingredients. A word such as "liquor" could be used in the common name of such an unstandardized alcoholic beverage.
Fruit Spirit with Added Maple Syrup
A product made from fruit spirit and 13% pure maple syrup may not be described as a "liqueur" or "maple flavoured liqueur" as it does not meet the standard of composition for a liqueur in the Food and Drug Regulations [B.02.070, FDR]. The following common names would be acceptable: "fruit spirit with maple syrup" or "maple flavoured liquor".
Liqueur Made from Artificial Flavour
An alcoholic beverage made only from alcohol, a sweetening agent and artificial flavour may not be called a "liqueur" because it does not conform to the standard for liqueurs [B.02.070, FDR]. However, an alcoholic beverage made solely from alcohol, a sweetening agent and a natural flavour may be called a liqueur, as natural flavour is a "preparation of sapid or odorous principles or both, derived from the plant after which the flavour is named" [B.10.005, FDR], and thus fulfils the liqueur standard.

Use of the Term "Dry" for Liqueur

The minimum sugar content required for liqueurs is 2.5 percent [B.02.070(b), FDR]. Although the level in many liqueurs is often well beyond this minimum, it is questionable whether the term "dry" is a meaningful description.

See also Use of the Term "Dry" for general information on dry claims for all alcoholic beverages.

Light Liqueurs Comparison Statements (Lower Alcohol Claim)

When making a comparative claim for the reduction in percent alcohol on the label of a light liqueur, the base point of 23% alcohol could be used, as this is the minimum level required by the standard for liqueurs [B.02.070, FDR]. A comparative statement to the effect that the product "Contains at least (X) % less alcohol than regular/standard liqueurs" would then be accurate. If, however, comparison is made to a specific brand, then the actual alcohol content of that brand should be used for comparison. Representations that characterize the amount of alcohol in alcoholic beverages that contain more than 0.5% alcohol are provided for in B.01.502(2)(j) of the FDR. The percentage difference stated in the comparative claim must be accurate and not misleading.

See also Comparative Claims on the Quality and Composition page for additional information.

Light Liqueurs with Non-nutritive Sweetening Ingredients (Reduced Energy Claim)

A liqueur that differs from the standard in that it is sweetened with a non-nutritive sweetener such as sucralose may be described as a "light liqueur", if the product meets the requirements for the nutrient content claim "light" by meeting the conditions for a "reduced in energy" claim. The "Light" Claims section outlines the compositional and labelling criteria that must be met, including the provision of supporting information for the light claim.

This claim causes a loss of exemption from the Nutrition Facts table requirement for the product [B.01.401(3)(e)(ii), FDR].

The following requirements apply in this case, in addition to the basic labelling requirements for alcoholic beverages:

Product Specific Information for Rum

List of ingredients for Rum

Flavouring preparations added to rum do not trigger the requirement for a list of ingredients. For example, the addition of a guarana extract to rum does not trigger the requirement for a list of ingredients on the product. As the guarana extract is added to the rum as a flavouring preparation, it is deemed to be acceptable under the standard for rum [B.02.030, FDR] and therefore a list of ingredients is not required.

Country of Origin - Caribbean Rum

The Consumer Packaging and Labelling Regulations require a declaration of "geographic origin" which is less specific than a "country of origin". The declaration "Imported from the Caribbean" is therefore acceptable.

Age Claims for Rum

Claims for the age of rum are restricted to the time the rum was stored in small wood. Rum, including any domestic or imported spirit added as flavouring, must be aged in small wood for not less than one year [B.02.031, FDR].

Younger rum can be blended with an older rum, for example 12 year old rum, and under certain conditions retain that age claim. Section B.02.030 of the FDR provides for rum to contain "flavouring" as defined in B.02.002. The Excise Act permits up to 9.09% of the total quantity of absolute ethyl alcohol in the product (which equates to 10% by weight) flavouring in the rum. Section B.02.031(1) of the FDR requires the rum to be aged a minimum of 1 year in small wood and section B.02.031(2) also requires the flavouring portion to be aged at least 1 year in small wood. Revenue Canada has interpreted this and their regulations (Circular 203-1) to mean, a twelve year old rum can contain flavouring up to 9.09% that is aged less than 12 years but at least 1 year, and it is still considered to be 12 year old rum. If more than 9.09% of younger rum is added, the claim 12 year old rum would no longer be acceptable.

See also Age Claims for general information, including on foreign certificates of age and authenticity.

Use of the Term "Dry" for Rum

In rum [B.02.030, FDR], where sugar could be added indirectly as part of the flavouring, the range of residual sugar content is very small and not readily detectable. Thus, the use of the term "dry" could be misleading and should not be used.

See also Use of the Term "Dry" for general information on dry claims for all alcoholic beverages.

Use of the Term "Light" for Rum

Historically, the term "light", in relation to a rum, is recognized as a description of the colour and/or flavour of the product, and therefore need not be further qualified when used in this way. The claim "light" on rum does not trigger a Nutrition Facts table [B.01.513(2), FDR]. The alcoholic beverages section on Use of the Term "Light" provides additional information.

Product Specific Information for Vodka

Use of the Term "Dry" for Vodka

The standard for Vodka does not provide for the addition of sugar or other sweetening agents [B.02.080, FDR]. For this reason, the description "dry" is potentially misleading and should not be used.

See also Use of the Term "Dry" for general information on dry claims for all alcoholic beverages.

Product Specific Information for Whisky

Age Claims for Whisky

Claims for the age of whisky are restricted to the period during which the whisky was stored in small wood. Whisky other than Bourbon [B.02.022, FDR] and Tennessee [B.02.022.1, FDR] must be aged at least three years in small wood, except that any domestic or imported spirit added as flavouring need only be aged for two years [B.02.020(2), B.02.023, FDR]. Where Canadian Whisky has been aged in small wood for at least three years, any period not exceeding six months during which that whisky was held in other containers may be claimed with respect to the age [B.02.020(3), FDR]. For example, Canadian Whisky aged three and a half years in small wood and eight months in glass containers may claim an age of four years.

See also Age Claims for general information, including on foreign certificates of age and authenticity.

Use of the Term "Dry" for Whisky

In whisky [B.02.010, FDR] where sugar could be added indirectly as part of the flavouring, the range of residual sugar content is very small and not readily detectable. Thus, the use of the term "dry" could be misleading and should not be used.

See also Use of the Term "Dry" for general information on dry claims for all alcoholic beverages.

Use of the Term "Light" for Whisky

For information on the claim "light", including as a reference to the alcohol content of whisky, refer to Use of the Term "Light".

Product Specific Information for Wine

Common Name for Wine

Dealcoholized Wine

"Dealcoholized" means that the alcohol content has been reduced to less than 1.1 %. Reduced alcohol wine that has not had its alcohol content reduced to this level is not considered to be "dealcoholized" and would have to be described by a common name such as "Partially Dealcoholized Wine". The percentage of alcohol by volume contained in "partially dealcoholized wine" must be declared on the label.

Any ingredients that are permitted in wine are permitted in dealcoholized wine. A list of ingredients may or may not be required on the label of "dealcoholized wine", depending on whether permitted ingredients are added before or after dealcoholisation. For permitted ingredients added before dealcoholisation, during the course of manufacture of the original wine ingredient, a separate list of ingredients is not needed. Ingredients added after dealcoholisation, directly to the dealcoholized wine, must be declared in the list of ingredients, e.g "dealcoholized wine, sugar, glucose, etc."

"Dealcoholized Wine" is an acceptable common name if single strength grape juice (sweet reserve) is added to the wine product, as it is an acceptable industry practice. It may also contain added water but only to replace the amount removed during the dealcoholisation process. However, if ingredients not permitted by the wine standard, other than grape juice and water, are added to the product either before or after dealcoholisation, the common name "dealcoholized wine" is not acceptable. The product could instead be called "dealcoholized wine beverage" or "dealcoholized wine with (naming the ingredient)", etc., and a list of ingredients would be required.

Flavoured Wine

A flavoured wine containing 17% alcohol may carry the common name "flavoured wine" and use descriptions such as "fortified grape wine with citrus juice and herbs", since the alcoholic content of the wine is close to that of other fortified wines such as sherry. In this example, the product would be required to comply with the standard for flavoured wine [B.02.105, FDR], and the ingredient represented as juice must meet the corresponding juice standard.

Net Quantity Declaration for Wine

Wine that is displayed for sale to consumers and bottled in a 750 mL container that is no taller than 360 mm in height may declare the net quantity in letters of at least 3.3 mm in height [CPLR 14(5)]. This is an exception to the type height requirements for the net quantity, and means that 750 mL bottles of wine (no taller than 360 mm) with a principal display surface of more than 40 square inches (258 square centimetres) are allowed to have a smaller type for declaring net quantity, i.e. 3.3 mm instead of 6.4 mm (or 9.5 mm or 12.7 mm, depending on the principal display surface). Use of this exception is optional - wine that is packaged in this way may also declare the net quantity using the type height described in the Legibility and Location section of the Net Quantity page.

Principal Display Surface for Wine

For wine containers, the principal display surface (definition) includes any area, excluding its top and bottom, that can be seen without having to turn the container [CPLR 2(1)]. This has the effect of allowing labelling information that is required to be located on the principal display panel of wine, including net quantity, country of origin, common name and alcohol by volume, to be presented in a single field of vision.

Standardized Container Sizes for Wine

Wine bottled after January 1, 1979 may only be sold in Canada in a container size that has a net quantity of product of 50, 100, 200, 250, 375, 500, or 750 millilitres or 1, 1.5, 2, 3 or 4 litres [36, CPLR].

Country of Origin for Wine

A clear indication of the country of origin is required on all standardized wine products described in B.02.100 and B.02.102 to B.02.107 of the FDR. This declaration must be shown in English and French [B.01.012.(2), FDR] and must appear on the principal display panel [B.02.108, FDR].

A wine may claim to be wine of a country if:

  1. the wine is made from at least 75 percent of the juice of grapes grown in that country and it is fermented, processed, blended and finished in that country; or
  2. in the case of wines blended in that country, at least 75 percent of the finished wine is fermented and processed in that country from the juice of grapes grown in that country.

The declaration should be stated as "product of (naming the country)" or "(naming the country) wine". For example: "Product of France" or "French Wine".

For wines from the U.S., a statement such as "Blush Merlot of California" would fulfill the requirement for a country of origin declaration on the label of a wine as the requirements do not specify the wording of the country of origin statement, i.e. "Product of..."; and it is unlikely that anyone would be misled regarding the origin of the product (knowing that California is part of the U.S.).

The labels of products which do not meet the conditions mentioned above must describe the various origins on the label. For example:

  • "Made in Canada from (naming the country or countries) grapes (or juices)" or
  • "Blended in Canada from (naming the country or countries) wines".

As an interim measure, the statement "Cellared in Canada by (naming the company), (address) from imported and/or domestic wines" may also be used as a country of origin statement for wines blended in Canada.

Use of the Term "Dry" for Wine

In relation to wines, the term "dry" refers to a low residual sugar content in the wine, i.e., most of the sugar has been fermented into alcohol. The term "dry", therefore, means the product has little or no sugar. There is, however, a large measurable range in the sugar content of wines. The actual sugar content of what would be perceived and described as a "dry" wine varies with the specific type of wine. For example, a dry sherry wine would have more residual sugar than a dry table wine.

See also Use of the Term "Dry" for general information on dry claims for all alcoholic beverages.

Use of the Term "Light" for Wine

For information refer to Use of the Term "Light".

Icewine

The icewine standard specifies that the terms icewine, ice wine or ice-wine may only be used for wine that is made exclusively from grapes naturally frozen on the vine. In addition, any words that are similar to, abbreviations of, symbols for or phonetic renderings of icewine may only be used in reference to wine that meets the icewine standard. This applies to both domestically produced and imported icewine. For domestically produced icewine, an entity acting under the authority of the law of the province in which the product was made must also determine that the product meets the standard. (Sections 2-5, Icewine Regulations, CAPA)

Provincial and Territorial Liquor Boards

Alcoholic beverages sold within certain provinces and territories may have to meet specific requirements. Consult the Provincial and Territorial Liquor Boards links provided below for more information.

Note: The information on the Web sites available through the links in this section may not be available in both English and French.

Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission

British Columbia Liquor Distribution Branch

Liquor Control Board of Ontario

Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries Corporation

New Brunswick Liquor Corporation

Newfoundland Labrador Liquor Corporation

Northwest Territories Liquor Commission

Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation

Nunavut Liquor Commission

Prince Edward Island Liquor Control Commission

Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority

Société des alcools du Québec

Yukon Liquor Corporation

Definitions

Alcoholic Beverage

A beverage containing 1.1% or more alcohol by volume is considered to be an alcoholic beverage.

Other Botanical Substances

The term "other botanical substances" as used in Division 2 of the Food and Drug Regulations does not include flavour preparations.

Wine

An alcoholic beverage that meets the standard for wine set out in section B.02.100 of the FDR [2(1), CPLR].

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