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Italian Wine Designation Guide | What are DOC and DOCG Wines?

A label on a bottle of wine is basically an identity card for the wine. It contains precise details designed to help the consumer understand everything they need to know when making their choice of wine. However, sometimes they can get a little confusing so here is our guide to decoding Italian wine labels:

1. Specific region from which the product comes

Indicates the geographical area from which the product comes (e.g. Alba), which may be accompanied by a reference to the related vine (e.g. Dolcetto).

2. Specific traditional designation D.O.C. or D.O.C.G.

The expressions Controlled Designation of Origin (D.O.C.) or Controlled and Guaranteed Designation of Origin (D.O.C.G.) mean that it is a high quality product, which met the strict rules that ensure the quality and provenance of the wine. These rules have been established by the European Community (EC).

3. Nominal volume of wine

The nominal volume of wine must be stated in litres, centilitres or millilitres.

4. Vintage

Starting from the 2010 harvest, the indication of the year is mandatory for all D.O.C.G. and D.O.C. wines, except for sparkling, fizzy and fortified wine types.

5. Indication of the manufacturer or bottler

Any reference to the corresponding manufacturer and/or bottler should always be specified (alternatively, for imported wines, the importer or retailer) including company name and location of the production plant. In addition, it is possible to use a code (where prescribed by the country) that further identifies one of these categories.

6. Indication of origin

The term “produced in” (or equivalent terms such as “wine of”, “product of”, etc.) followed by the name of the country, indicate the area where the grapes were harvested and vinified.

7. Indication of the batch

A numbering that indicates a set of bottles belonging to the same lot or parcel, produced in virtually identical circumstances. As a rule, it is usually preceded by the letter “L”.

8. Ecological information

On the containers or labels of the products put on the market there should also appear an invitation not to dispose of the containers in the environment after use.

9. Contains sulphites

Indicates that the product was treated with allergens such as sulphur dioxide.

10. Actual alcoholic strength

The alcohol content must be expressed in units or half units of percentage by volume (e.g. 10% vol., 10.5% vol.) and may be preceded by the wording “actual alcoholic strength’’ or “actual alcohol’’ or just by the abbreviation “alc’’.