DOCG-DOC-IGT-VT Italian Wine Denominations

DOCG-DOC-IGT-VT Italian Wine Denominations

Understanding The Denominations

Italian Wine Denominations classification system reflects current realities with four classes of wine: two that fall under the EU category of Quality Wine Produced in a Specific Region (QWPSR) and two under the “Table Wines” category.


The four classes are:

Table Wine:

    • VT (Vino da Tavola) – Denotes wine from Italy. This definition is not always synonymous with other countries’ legal definitions of Table Wine. The appellation indicates either an inferior quaffing wine, or one that does not follow current wine law. Some quality wines do carry this appellation.


    • IGT  (Indicazione Geografica Tipica) Denotes wine from a more specific Italian region. This appellation was created in 1994 for the “new” wines of Italy, which were those that had broken the strict, old wine laws but were nevertheless of great quality. Before the IGT was created, quality “Super Tuscany” wines such as Tignanello and Sassicaia were labelled Vino da Tavola (Table Wines).


QWPSR(Quality Wine Produced in a Specific Region)

Both DOC and DOCG wines come from zones which are more specific than IGT wines and the permitted grapes are more defined as well. The main difference between a DOC and a DOCG product is the latter must pass a blind taste test for quality in addition to conforming to the strict legal requirements. Only then can it be designated as a wine from the area in question.


    •  DOC      (Denominazione di Origine controllata)

Denominazione di origine controllata is an Italian quality assurance label for food products and especially wines (an Appellation). It is modelled after the French AOC and was instituted in 1963 but overhauled in 1992 for compliance with the equivalent EU law on Protected Designation of Origin, which came into effect that year.


    • DOCG  (Denominazione di origine controllata e Garantita)

DOCG regions are subterritories of DOC regions producing outstanding products that may be subject to more stringent production and quality standards than the same products from the surrounding DOC region.

The need for DOCG identification arose when the DOC denomination was handed out too liberally in the view of many Italian food industries. The new, more restrictive identification was then created but was left as similar as possible to the previous one so buyers could still recognize it. However it became qualitatively different.

There is a notable difference.  DOCG labeled wines are analysed and tasted by government–licensed personnel before being bottled. To prevent later manipulation, DOCG wine bottles then are sealed with a numbered government seal.


Italian legislation also regulates the use of the following qualifying terms for wines:

    • Classico: is reserved for wines produced in the region where a particular type of wine has been produced “traditionally.”  For the Chianti Classico, this “traditional region” is defined by a decree from July 10, 1932.
    • Riserva: May be used only for wines aged at least two years longer than normal for that particular type.
    • Superiore: Denotes DOC wines meeting the norm that might have a higher alcohol percentage, longer aging process or production in a special subzone. These conditions may vary.

Wines labelled DOC or DOCG may only be sold in bottles that have a 5 liters maximum capacity.



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