The move has been welcomed by the Wine & Spirit Trade Association, which has campaigned for 18 months to persuade Europe to change its position.
Previously, winemakers in France and Spain were allowed to use reverse osmosis or spinning cone devices to reduce alcoholic strength by up to two percentage points – but the wines could not be exported. US winemakers were the only ones allowed to sell wines in Europe which had been reduced in alcoholic strength.
Jeremy Beadles, chief executive of the WSTA, said: “We are delighted that the European Commission has changed the rules to allow producers and retailers the opportunity to offer customers a wider range of reduced alcohol wines.
“Customers have been saying for some time that they want more choice and these rule changes should allow the industry to meet that demand.”
The ruling comes into force this month and carries a number of conditions – the use of the experimental practice must be noted on both the accompanying documentation and winemaking records. The European Commission must be notified of the product and process used.