European Parliament committee supports winemakers' right to add sugar in their wines

Winemakers managed to retain the right to add sugar in their wines thanks to a vote in a European Parliament committee.

The committee voted to remove a proposed ban on sugar from an EU plan to reform the bloc's bloated wine sector.

The proposed ban is part of an EU plan make the wine industry more competitive in the world market in the face of decreasing consumption at home and an increasing appetite for New World wines.

Vintners in cooler areas with a lack of sun, such as Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic use extra sugar to produce high-quality wines.

Faced with massive opposition from these countries, the EU parliament's agriculture committee rejected the proposal to ban crystal sugar to jack up alcohol content. The reform plan will now go to the entire 785-assembly and EU governments for a final decision.

EU Farm Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel has said that if EU policies continue unchecked, excess wine production would reach 15 percent of output by 2010. The commission spends 500 million EUR($700 million) of its 1.3 billion EUR($1.9 billion) wine budget to get rid of unwanted wine.

But the EU executive faces a tough battle with some member states over its reform package.