Change to Food Standards Code regarding addition of water to high sugar must/juice

On 9 February, an amendment was made to standard 4.5.1 of the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code (FSC) to expressly permit the limited addition of water to high sugar must and juice to reduce the chance of problems arising during fermentation.

The original application was made by the Winemakers’ Federation of Australia following extensive consultation with peak sector bodies and stakeholder representatives with the view of removing the ambiguity as to when water additions are permitted under the FSC.

The amendment establishes that water may be added to grape juice or must to reduce the sugar level of the juice or must to a minimum of 13.5 degrees Baumé.

This is in addition to the maximum 70 mL/L currently allowed under the FSC to allow the incorporation of permitted additives or processing aids, and for other reasons incidental to the winemaking process.

Notwithstanding the above, additions of all permitted additives and processing aids, including water, must be made in accordance with Good Manufacturing Practice, the amount added being the very minimum required to achieve the desired effect.

The change will ensure that Australian winemakers are able to ameliorate the sugar level of incoming fruit so that they can continue to produce high quality wines free of technical faults.

For assistance with calculating water additions or any other winemaking technical issue, please contact the AWRI helpdesk on 08 8313 6600 or helpdesk@awri.com.au.