Sugar Codes Deep Sixed
The old system was not terribly informative - almost all wines are 0, 1 or 2 - but one thing in its favour is that a lot of customers understand it and follow it. On the down side, it wasn't good at getting across the degree of dryness or sweetness. With so many styles of wine clustered in the three broad categories, the need for nuance was clear.
There are now five categories, marked by letters, with the amount of residual sugar shown in (grams per litre) with [old sugar code]
XD - Extra Dry (<10 g/L) [0-1]
D - Dry (5-16 g/L) [1-2]
M - Medium (17-32 g/L) [2-4]
MS - Medium Sweet (33-45 g/L) 
S - Sweet (+45 g/L) (5-8]
One danger is that the g/L might prove as incomprehensible as the L/100km in car gas consmption measure... two generations of Canadians have grown up metric but the US miles-per-gallon still seems to be the magic number for car shoppers...
But I think the g/L detail will work. It's pretty straightforward and once consumers have a reference point of what's too dry or too sweet for them, they'll be able to quickly determine whether they'll like the wine.
Product information for almost all wines will now include the sweetness rating and the g/L sugar level. It's pretty clear on the new shelf labelling cards, as you can see from the highlighted circle in this example.
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© 2005, 2014 Alan McGinty