Inhabitants of the Italian peninsula and islands have been making wine for thousands of years but it was only in the 1960s that a comprehensive, nation-wide program regulating the entire sector was adopted.

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

There are three levels of labels:

DOCG — Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (controlled designation of origin guaranteed)

DOC — Denominazione di Origine Controllata (controlled designation of origin)

IGT — Indicazione Geografica Tipica (wines typical of those produced in those areas but that don’t fall under DOC/DOCG)

DOC — Denominazione di Origine Controllata (controlled designation of origin)

VdT — Vino da Tavola, Table wine the lowest level of wine produced similar to vins de table

  • DOCG : the highest classification for Italian wines, introduced in 1963. It denotes controlled (controllata) production methods and guaranteed (garantita) wine quality. There are strict rules governing the production of DOCG wines, most obviously the permitted grape varieties, yield limits, grape ripeness, winemaking procedures and ageing specifications. Every DOCG wine is subject to official tasting procedures. To prevent counterfeiting, the bottles have a numbered government seal across the neck.
  • DOC : a step below DOCG, the DOC classification accounts for the majority of wines produced in Italy. The quality control regulations are less stringent (but similar in style) than those applied to DOCG wines.
  • IGT: The IGT classification was introduced in 1992, to allow a certain level of freedom to Italy’s winemakers. Prior to 1992, many wines did not qualify for DOC or DOCG status not because they were of low quality, but because they were made from grape varieties (or blends) not sanctioned under DOC/G laws. The IGT classification focuses on the region of origin, rather than grape varieties or wine styles.
  • VdT : means ‘table wine’ in Italian. VDT wines are typically of lesser quality than those labeled with IGT, DOC or DOCG.