Wine Law

Wine Labelling Giuliano Lemme1 1. Consumerism and Law; 2. General Rules on Food Labelling in the EU; 3. Wine Labelling: Regulations; 4. The Problem with Wine Classification: A Consumer Perspective; 5. A Possible Solution?. 1. CONSUMERISM AND LAW The word “consumer”, long confined to the studies of sociologists and economists, has become increasingly popular with law scholars over the last few decades. One reason for this interest stems from the role of the market as the focal point of every aspect of human studies. However, the full implications of the very concept of a consumer need to be explained in the light of consumerism. In 1867, Karl Marx published the first chapter of his magnum opus, Das Kapital2, where he emphasised the almost “mystical” character of goods in the capitalist system. This implied that capitalists were willing (in a way, forced) to incentivise the consumption of goods. Naturally, it must be assumed that Marx’s opinion was biased and functional to his political ideas against capitalism; yet, it is indeed true that the capitalist system strongly supports consumption, as evidenced, for instance, by the words of Victor Lebow, which were written in the middle of the 20th Century and may sound quite unsettling today: “Our enormously productive economy demands that we make consumption our way of life, that we convert the buying and use of goods into rituals, that we seek our spiritual satisfactions, our ego satisfactions, in consumption. The measure of social status, of social acceptance, of prestige, is now to be found in our consumptive patterns. The very meaning and significance of our lives today expressed in consumptive terms. The greater the pressures upon the individual to conform to safe and accepted social standards, the more does he tend to express his aspirations and 1 Full Professor of Economics Law, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia. 2 K. MARX, Das Kapital, 1867, English original translation Capital. A Critique of Political Economy, New York, 1906.