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Published on February 4th, 2011 | by Dean Carr


Licensing Law: Plans to deregulate 75ml wine measure

Selling wine in sample measures is against the law… but maybe not for much longer

In recent times, more and more restaurants and wine bars have adopted the practice of selling a range of wines in sample-sized measures. The idea is to encourage customers to be a little more adventurous in their choices and perhaps, having tasted, to be prepared to spend a little more on wine than they otherwise would.

Giving samples of wine away is, of course, legal – it is not a “sale of alcohol” – but many operators have been selling samples to their customers, some of them using wine dispensing machines which function upon the insertion of a payment card that has been pre-loaded with credit.

Selling wine in this way has up until now been, strictly speaking, illegal and, although many authorities have been prepared to turn a blind eye, Westminster City Council, in one high-profile recent case, certainly was not.

The reason is the Weights and Measures Act 1985, which requires wine by the glass to be served in measures of 125ml or 175ml, “or multiples thereof”.

However, all of this is finally set to change, with the announcement last month that the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills will finally lay legislation before Parliament during the coming session to deregulate the size of wine measures under 75ml.

This means that operators will be free to sell sample sizes lawfully. This news will be welcomed by those in this sector who were disappointed when the promised reform – originally proposed by Labour – failed to materialise in April last year, and again last October, as a result of a lack of Parliamentary time.

Science minister David Williets said: “This is exactly the sort of unnecessary red tape the government wants to remove.

“No pub or restaurant should break the law by selling a customer a sample of wine.

“We have listened to consumers and businesses… we are freeing businesses so they can innovate and create new products to meet the demands of their customers.”

Nothing like taking credit for the decisions of your predecessors…

Source: The Publican

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About the Author

Dean Carr

Dean has been involved in alcohol licensing for over 20 years and has helped many independent retailers and corporate clients obtain a licence to sell alcohol or offer late night refreshment, regulated entertainment from all sorts of premises. Dean writes articles for various trade related blogs and is currently Managing Director of the PLT group of companies who run APLH and SCPLH personal alcohol licence courses nationwide. You can contact Dean or a member of his expert licensing team on: 01242 222 188

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