Italian Wines

Photo Credit: Napa Valley Wine Academy

Italian Wine Classifications

In the 1960’s, Italy implemented a set of wine laws known as Demoninazione di Origine Controllata (DOC), which is broadly based on the French AOC laws. Initially, the laws separated Italian wines into two categories. However, in the 1980’s and 1990’s, two new categories were added, dividing them into four classifications according to quality. From lowest to highest quality, they are vino da tavola (VdT), Indicazione Geografica Tipica (IGT), Demoninazione di Origine Controllata (DOC), and Demoninazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG).

Vino da Tavola (VdT)

Vino da tavola is Italian for “table wine.” VdT is the lowest classification of Italian wine. It’s also the largest, making up more than half of Italy’s total wine production. This is the most basic, everyday drinking wine and can come from anywhere in the country. It has relatively low restrictions, is mass produced, and rarely exported outside of Italy. A lot of times it’s not even bottled, but sold in bulk.

Indicazione Geografica Tipica (IGT)

Indicazione Geografica Tipica translates to “typical geographic indication.” IGT is a step up in quality from VdT. The classification was introduced in the 1990’s to recognize wines that were of higher quality than the basic table wines, yet did not fit the standards of DOC wines. IGT wines are regulated according to geographic regions only with no restrictions on grape variety. Wines can be made using non-Italian grapes, giving winemakers more freedom to experiment.

Demoninazione di Origine Controllata (DOC)

Demoninazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) is the second highest classification of Italian wine. Regulations are much stricter than IGT and VdT. The term translates to “controlled designation of origin.” Wines are made using only authorized grapes and must meet other legal requirements to qualify for this designation. DOC wines generally come from traditional Italian wine regions and uphold traditional Italian winemaking techniques using indigenous grapes. This classification basically serves to preserve customary Italian winemaking standards.

Demoninazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG)

Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) translates to “controlled and guaranteed designation of origin.” It is the strictest and highest quality classification. DOCG wines must follow stringent guidelines such as restrictions on production volume, approved grapes, and accepted winemaking techniques. They also must undergo a blind tasting test in order to be “guaranteed.” Wines that meet these standards are the best Italy has to offer.

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