A Guide to Italian Wine Classifications

Fantinel BarrelsItaly has laws to promote the production of quality wines. This classification system primarily defines the geographic area of the appellation, grapes used and proportions admitted for a specific wine’s production as well as alcohol and aging requirements.

Classified wines are guaranteed by the government. Frequent checks are conducted at various stages of the production, from the vine to the finished product. Non compliance but passing off, invokes serious penalties; fines and even imprisonment.

Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG)

DOCG LabelDOCG denotes the highest quality recognition for Italian Wines; these form a relatively limited number of first-class wines. Not all of italy’s wine-producing regions produce DOCG wines, however.

Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC)

DOC LabelDOC wines must be produced in specifically defined appellations, in accordance with regulations that are intended to preserve the wines’ character.

A DOC wine’s character is uniquely derived from Italy’s individual regions.

Quantity of grapes produced per vineyard, grape must volume and alcohol-level all have to comply with DOC classification standards.

Indicazione di Geografica Tipica (IGT)

These are wines that are specific to a single geographic wine-producing region in Italy.

Vino di tavola (VDT)

These are table wines, however some of Italy’s best wines fall under the IGT or VDT categories in order to avoid the stringent regulations required for DOC and DOCG classification. There are many fine and expensive Italian wines produced outside of the rules of the DOC and DOCG classification systems because some wine makers feel these rules are too constraining.


Classico (classic)

This is wine produced in the most typical method of that region, and the grapes used are generally grown in the most renowned wine-producing area of that region’s appellation.

Superiore (superior)

This a robust wine having a percentage of alcohol by volume higher than the normal requirement for the appellation.

 Riserva (reserve)

This is a wine that has been through a longer aging process than is normally required for its classification.

 by Dale & Natalie

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