how to read an Italian Wine label

Dolcetto Lable

Wine classifications are also indicated on wine labels. The Italians have strict controls on their wines with regulations to ensure origin, inherent quality, and authenticity. The four classifications of Italian wine are:

Vino da Tavola (vee’ noh da tav’ oh lah) — indicates ordinary table wine. These wines do not specify the grape variety, vintage or place of origin on their label. They are the wines that do not fit into any other category. They do not conform to DOC regulations on grape types or vinification techniques.

IGT — Indicazione Geografica Tipica (in dae caht zee oh’ nae gee oh’ graf’ e cah tee’ pee ca). This appellation was established after the DOC and DOCG designations were created in order to accommodate growers who for one reason or another couldn't - or didn’t want to - meet the requirements for DOC or DOCG designation. This appllation permits producers greater flexibility in both vineyard management and cellaring procedures in crafting wines that are considered to be of higher quality than simple table wines (Vino da Tavola). Were it not for this category, world-class Super-Tuscan wines such as Tignanello and Sassicaia, among others, would be classified as simple Vino da Tavola (VDT) wines.

DOC — Denominazione di Origine Controllata (dae no mee naht zee oh’ nae dee oh ree’ gee nae con trol lah’ tah), literally controlled denomination of area.  It denotes a specific type of wine with controls on the area in which the grapes must be grown usually with other specifications for grape varieties, color, aroma, flavor, alcohol content, acidity, aging procedures and/or period of aging.

DOCG — Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita  (dae no mee naht zee oh’ nae dee oh ree’ gee nae con trol lah’ tah ae gah ren tee’ tah), literally controlled denomination of area and guaranteed. This is the premier classification for Italian wines. More stringent standards are imposed for DOCG wines than DOC wines such as, for exampl, lower yield requirements on vineyards, passing taste tests by tasting panels and submitting to in-depth chemical analyses before bottling.



Richard Marcis
November 2, 2008


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