What are the regulatory classifications for Italian wines?

Italy employs a system of strict DOC laws to control wine quality throughout the country. See more wine pictures.
Italy employs a system of strict DOC laws to control wine quality throughout the country. See more wine pictures.
©iStockphoto/Paul Johnson

­Each European country has specific rules and regulations governing all aspects of wine productio­n. In Italy, they're called Denominations of Origin laws - the government established them in 1963 to control wine quality. The denominations are granted on the basis of the exact production area, the specific grape varietals used, the viticultural and bottling techniques, and a public tasting [source: Regione Lombardia]. Italian wine falls into one of four classifications:

  • Vino da Tavola (VDT) wines, or "table wines" have to follow only very loose guidelines.
  • Indicazione Geografica Tipica (IGT) wines are made from approved grapes in certain regions.
  • Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) wines must have an "appellation of origin" label and follow stricter rules about grape variety, alcohol content and aging. There are about 300 DOC wines [source: ItalianMade].
  • Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) wines are from one of 21 zones and must adhere to even stricter standards. To date, only 24 wines have achieved this prestigious classification [source: ItalianMade].

­If you're interested in trying one of Italy's prestigious DOCG wines, there are many wines to consider. You could narrow your choices down by regi­on. For example, if you want to try DOCGs from Tuscany, you could pick from:


  • Brunello di Montalcino
  • Carmignano
  • Chianti Classico
  • Morellino di Scansano
  • Vernaccia di San Gimignano
  • Vino Nobile di Montepulciano [source: ItalianMade]

Or, you could try a Bardolino Superiore, Recioto di Soave or Soave Superiore from Veneto or one of Umbria's DOCGs -- Montefalco Sagrantino or Torgiano Riserva [source: ItalianMade].

For more wine-related information, check out the links on the following page.


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Related HowStuffWorks Articles

  • ItalianMade. "Laws and Labels." (Accessed 02/17/09) http://www.italianmade.com/wines/laws-and-labels.cfm
  • ItalianMade. "Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG)." (Accessed 02/17/09) http://www.italianmade.com/wines/laws-and-labels-docg.cfm
  • Regione Lombardia. "The Wine and Food Roads of Lombardy." (Accessed 02/08/09) http://www.annuariodelturismo.it/cd_vini/ViniDiLombardia/EN/strade.htm