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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Beets and Grapes Win Out in EU 'Vodka War'

STRASBOURG, France -- Europe took a step closer on Tuesday toward resolving its simmering "vodka war" when EU officials agreed to a compromise on what the spirit drink may be made from: potatoes, grain and even grapes.

The dispute over defining vodka has split the European Union into a group of northern countries in Europe's "vodka belt" -- led by top vodka producer Poland -- against other states where the drink is made from a vast array of agricultural materials, including fruit and molasses. Last year the European Commission suggested allowing vodka to be made from any raw agricultural ingredients, provided its origin was clearly displayed on the bottle's label.

Poland disagreed, backed by its allies Finland, Sweden and the Baltic states, arguing that grain and potatoes should be the only ingredients. Other countries a their stance was thinly disguised protectionism.

Worldwide, the vodka industry grosses $12 billion each year.

After months of looking at ways to accommodate both sides, EU lawmakers voted for a compromise that allows nontraditional distillers to continue selling their product as vodka, but with a label that prominently displays the raw material used.

"There was a clear majority in favor of the compromise in the parliament. What all parties wanted was taken into account," said German member Horst Schnellhardt, who steered the compromise vodka definition through the 785-member EU assembly.