Wine Bottle Labelling Units of Alcohol Not Always Shown

I have a number of bottles of wine society wine and a number of them dont show the units of alcohol in the bottle.

No. It is not a legal requirement. Alcohol by volume and capacity are.


I bought a mixed range of wines from the sale at another merchant just recently. Out of about 40 bottles only 3 carry the warnings, one so small it would need a high-powered magnifying glass to read.

Yet I seem to recall seeing it more commonly on supermarket wines. Am I imagining that?

Much more common in supermarkets. If you are really interested have a look at

According to Wikipedia UK alcohol companies pledged in March 2011 to implement an innovative health labelling scheme to provide more information about responsible drinking on alcohol labels and containers. This voluntary scheme is the first of its kind in Europe and has been developed in conjunction with the UK Department of Health. The pledge stated:[5]

“We will ensure that over 80% of products on shelf (by December 2013) will have labels with clear unit content, NHS guidelines and a warning about drinking when pregnant.”

At the end of 2014, 101 companies had committed to the pledge labelling scheme.[5]

There are five elements included within the overall labelling scheme, the first three being mandatory, and the last two optional:

  1. Unit alcohol content per container (mandatory) , and per serving (optional)
  2. Chief Medical Officers’ daily guidelines for lower-risk consumption
  3. Pregnancy warning (in text or as a graphic)
  4. Mention of “
  5. Responsibility statement (e.g., “please drink responsibly”) (optional)

Further detailed specifications about the labelling scheme are available from the “Alcohol labelling tool kit”. [6]

Drinks companies had pledged to display the three mandatory items on 80% of drinks containers on shelves in the UK off-trade by the end of December 2013.[6] A report published in Nov 2014, confirmed that UK drinks producers had delivered on that pledge with a 79.3% compliance with the pledge elements as measured by products on shelf. Compared with labels from 2008 on a like-for-like basis, information on Unit alcohol content had increased by 46%; 91% of products displayed alcohol and pregnancy warnings (18% in 2008); and 75% showed the Chief Medical Officers’ lower risk daily guidelines (6% in 2008).[7]
The Wine Society are not one of the companies?

How would that work on the sort of wines that merchants (as opposed to shops) sell? Presumably by adding another back label?

At what point do we say that it’s not rocket science to work out the number of units you have in a bottle (if you want to track your alcohol intake that way) - given we are relatively knowledgeable customers - ?

(I only ask to stimulate debate. )


The labelling rules are odd, South African wines always have huge sometimes humorous warnings on the label, USA ones have huge importer labels.

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It would help if we never invented the “unit” as measurement of alcohol volume, and just stuck with cl to define recommended drinking limits.

Yes, I do realise that 1 unit is meant to be a drink, but often it is not, and that too causes problems with the system


Is that Secateurs? Precisely the ones I was thinking about! There’s another winery that was great with them too too, might have been Raats?

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Yes, it is Badenhorst’s Secateurs! :+1: they always have slightly ‘amusing’ messages such as these. Me and the husband still can’t decide if this is serious (don’t they have pavements in Swartland?) or tongue-in-cheek…

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For a standard bottle (75cl)
Units = ABV x 0.75

In reality the range is so small,
11% standard bottle = 8.25 Units
15%… = 11.25 Units
that its easiest to take a bottle of wine as containing 11 Units.

The units per serving is meaningless imo as very few people are using standard measures.

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Its easy if i am drinking at home. If i go out for a meal i have a large glass of wine with the meal . I dont often go out for a meal where i would drink wine. Say once a month. Before i was married it was easy to drink too much . My solution to that was not to have any alcoholic beverage in the house.

Snap, maybe it’s a new requirement of South African labelling rules…

One can only hope.

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I noticed this one too. Not sure it’s humorous - I imagined it might be because, as all over Africa, a lot of South Africans drink and then walk home hammered along unlit roads. But then I don’t imagine the hard-drinking local labourer population forms a big part of Adie’s clientele, so you’re probably right :slight_smile:

I don’t want units on bottles. I prefer they don’t have any English on at all, but in any case I want to be able to drink too much in bloody peace in my own home :slight_smile:

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Ha! yes, indeed. It’s probably another tick box exercise - a bit like ‘Drink Responsibly’. What does that mean? If you know what it means, you’re already doing it.

The other day I saw a graffiti next to the pool I go to; it said “Nuke responsibly”. It made me chuckle.

From memory, there are about 6 different official warning messages for RSA wines, and the producers get to decide which one they use - presumably the one they think will least affect sales

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Thats the problem is it not. If you live on your own and you drink too much and you become ill it can cause inconvenience and expense to others. If like most people you rely on the national health service then the rest of the taxpayers will be paying for your medical treatment. Because your taxes wont be enough.

After the whole B****t disaster we aren’t going to have an NHS.

And having a nanny-state unit warning isn’t going to stop me (or anyone else) having a few extra glasses anyway.


Makes sense! So naturally they choose the amusing ones.