Do you have that friend who always tells you at the supermarket "Buy this bottle because it's better: it's a DOCG"? Have you always seen those strange acronyms on the label without ever fully understanding its meaning?

Let's try to clarify and learn the basic concepts to easily navigate between the various DOCG, DOC, IGT classifications or to make a good impression with friends.

The classification of Italian wines is a QUALITATIVE SCALE, based on production constraints and rules, created with the aim of enhancing typical products and protecting consumers. It is important to point out that we refer to the quality of the production process and not to the quality of the product.

We can imagine this qualitative scale as a pyramid of four levels, in which the wines are subjected to increasingly rigid and restrictive regulation, as we climb towards the top.

Let's start from the bottom to analyze each step of the pyramid individually.

Vini Generici o Varietali

The wines that belong to this category are produced without particular constraints that regulate their production and from grapes without territorial constraints or type of vine.
In any case, they are also subject to rules and controls with regard to health and hygiene aspects.

IGT - Indicazione Geografica Tipica

This category includes wines produced, for at least 85%, from grapes of a specific geographical area, usually quite large.
The IGT classification almost exclusively indicates the geographical name of the area of origin, and the resulting product represents the quality, notoriety and specific characteristics attributable to the area itself.

DOC - Denominazione di Origine Controllata

The DOC wines are characterized by an area of very specific and delimited origin, to the point of restricting the area to a municipality, a hamlet, a farm, a farm or a vineyard.
Before being put on the market, these wines are subjected, during processing, to a chemical-physical and organoleptic analysis that certifies the conformity of the requirements foreseen by the production disciplinary.

DOCG - Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita

The attribution of DOCG is reserved for wines, already recognized as DOC for at least 10 years and considered of particular value in relation to the organoleptic characteristics compared to those of the analogous wines thus classified.
The specifications to be observed to obtain the DOCG classification are rather strict and checks are carried out throughout the production cycle from the vineyard to the bottle. The analysis of the characteristics of the wine are in fact verified both in the production phase and after bottling, when a tasting is also carried out by a special commission of experts that carries out a sensory evaluation.
After passing the test, special watermark seals are issued to the manufacturer, printed by the State Printing Office and issued by the Chamber of Commerce or by the Consortium for the bottlers, in limited numbers according to the quantity of hectoliters produced, to be placed on each bottle.

What is the difference between DOP and IGP?

DOP and IGP are classifications of the European Community and used to distinguish food products.
IGP - Indicazione Geografica Protetta - includes all IGT wines.
DOP - Denominazione di Origine Protetta - includes both DOC and DOCG wines. It is therefore in the producer's interest to include the DOCG wording on the label which represents a further guarantee of product quality.

Is a DOCG wine better than a table wine?

NO. The classifications of the wines are a guarantee of the origin of the grapes, quality of the production process and compliance with all the rules laid down by the various disciplinaries but cannot represent a qualitative scale of the product which, as a foodstuff, is subject to the tastes of the consumer.
Suffice it to say that many famous Italian wines are DOC or IGT (some by choice, not to be "caged" in too rigid specifications that would have affected the composition of the final product), such as Sassicaia and Ornellaia (Bolgheri DOC) or Tignanello and the Masseto (Toscana IGT).

N.B. Information on official regulations, legislative and/or very technical details will not be discussed in this article as they are not consistent with our mission "Keep wine simple". For doubts or further information, please consult the official documentation.