I know shopping for wine can be very confusing not only for those who are new to wines but also for those that have been drinking for years. Trust me when I say that even I struggle at times! You know the feeling, when you are standing among rows of wines staring at them having them stare back not knowing how to choose. Looking at these bottles they have names and more names and then come these abbreviations. Hah! Have you ever wondered what those are? Wine lingo is full of abbreviations and they can be confusing. Well, learning a few simple terms may increase your confidence and help you decode the wine labels like a pro! Since we are into Italian wine this week, I have put together an easy-to-understand guide for you to pick your next Italian bottle.
In the 1960s, Italy established a series of laws to guarantee the quality of their wines and the authenticity of the wine. It helps you better understand the quality of the wine and its origins when you shop for them. There are 4 Italian wine classification: DOCG, DOC, IGT, VdT
- DOCG – Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (Controlled and Guaranteed Designation of Origin)
The highest classification that can be awarded to Italian wines. It means that the wines are of controlled production methods and the quality is guaranteed with each bottle. Strict rules govern the production of DOCG wines eg. the grape varieties used, grape ripeness, winemaking process and barrel or bottle maturation. Every bottle is subject to the officials tasting procedures before bottling and each bottle has a numbered government seal.
Examples: Brunello, Chianti Classico, Amarone della Valpollicella and Prosecco Superiore
2. DOC – Denominazione di Origini Controllata (Controlled Designation of Origin)
The second highest classification and to achieve this classification, very strict rules need to be followed to ensure the quality and authenticity. DOC wines also come from specific areas of production and they’re often larger than that of DOCG. This is also a great place to begin your exploration to Italian wines.
Exmples: Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Valpolicella (Veneto), Orvieto (Veneto), Soave (Veneto)
This category is the middle-of-quality pyramid and the broadest of Italian wines. Although still defined by the geographical area, more flexibility is given in terms of blending non-traditional grapes and employs less main-stream winemaking techniques. Do not be fooled to think that lesser rule means lower quality. Some of Italy’s most expensive wines falls under this category like the Super Tuscans.
Examples: Castello Banfi Centine (Tuscan), Antiori Tignanello (Tuscan)
4. VdT– Vino Da Tavola(Table Wine)
Literally means Table wine and some of the labels just say ‘Vino’. VdT wines can be grown anywhere in Italy and the wine can range from humble origins to top end bottles as the winemakers are looking to produce wines without strict rules and regulations.