LEX VINI

TTB Adds New Standards of Fill for Wine and Distilled Spirits

On December 29, 2020, the U.S. Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) published a final rule in the Federal Register that, among other things, expands the number of available standards of fill (or container/bottle sizes) for wine and distilled spirits, effective immediately.

Under the final rule, wine may now use the following new standards of fill: 200 mL, 250 mL, and 355 mL.  No previously existing standards of fill were removed.  As a result, the complete list of available standards of fill for wine are: 50 mL, 100 mL, 187 mL, 200 mL, 250 mL, 355 mL, 375 mL, 500 mL, 750 mL, 1 L, 1.5 L, and 3 L.  In addition, wine can also be bottled in containers larger than 4 L if such containers are filled and labeled in quantities of whole liters (e.g., 4L, 5 L, 6 L).

Similarly, distilled spirits may now use the following new standards of fill: 700 mL, 720 mL, 900 mL, and 1.8 L.  No previously existing standards of fill were removed.  As a result, the complete list of available standards of fill for distilled spirits are: 50 mL, 100 mL, 200 mL, 375 mL, 500 mL, 700 mL, 720 mL, 750 mL, 900 mL, 1 L, 1.75 L, and 1.8 L.  In addition, distilled spirits in metal containers that are generally shaped and designed like a can (i.e., cannot be readily reclosed after opening), can be filled at the following sizes: 50 mL, 100 mL, 200 mL, and 355 mL.

Furthermore, the final rule codifies the TTB’s current policy that distilled spirits may be labeled with the U.S. equivalent measurement in addition to the mandatory metric measurement, and that malt beverages may be labeled with the equivalent metric measure in addition to the mandatory U.S. measure.

The TTB expressly declined to eliminate standard of fill requirements generally and also declined to adopt an administrative approval system that would have allowed the TTB to approve additional container sizes.  The TTB also noted, however, that it was committing to a future rulemaking proposing new standards of fill for wine of 180 mL, 300 mL, 360 mL, 550 mL, 720 mL, and 1.8 L, in accordance with the U.S.-Japan Free trade Agreement.

This final rule provides greater flexibility for both importers and domestic producers.  Importers may now import into the U.S. certain bottle sizes that are already standard in the global marketplace and approved in other countries.  Likewise, domestic producers now have more options for bottling or canning their products.  In particular, the newly available 250 mL and 355 mL container sizes for wine make canned wine more viable; these can sizes are readily available since they are already mass-produced for beer and soda, and cans are often preferable to glass or large containers at certain venues or occasions.

The final rule is available here.  For any specific questions, please reach out to Bahaneh Hobel (Head of Alcohol Beverage Law) or Michael Mercurio (Law Clerk).

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