An Intro to Italian Wine Labels

From what you smell and taste to the rules of each wine region, you’re relying on your memory to help you appreciate and understand what it is you’re enjoying. You use what you remember and what you know to describe what you’re seeing, smelling and tasting, and even how the wine makes you feel. Simply, when it comes to understanding the world of wine, it’s memorization.

studying wine

The appreciation and understanding of wine is highly reliant on your memory.

I’ve mentioned that Italy is hard. Even though I can say I haven’t visited the whole country, I have no excuse when it comes to knowing what to expect because it’s all memorization. The problem is, there’s a lot to remember! If you’re trying to understand Italian wine labels, learn the wine laws first before trying to remember the regions because some parts are actually confusing (case in point).

Intro to Italian Wine Laws

DOC Italian wine

Two different bottles. Sometimes the relevant info is found on the back label such as on the bottle on the right.

Indicazione Geografica Tipica – Grapes can be sourced from a larger area rather than a restricted one like the DOC or DOCG wines below. You’ll find a lot of wines from the south with this on the labels since there aren’t many DOC or DOCGs there.

Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) – When you see this on the label, you’ll know that it comes from the specified area that allow only certain varietals and a minimum alcohol level. Depending on the area, there could also be regulations regarding wine making methods and minimum aging.

Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantia (DOCG) – Has all the requirements of Denominazione di Origine Controllata, but also must be bottled in the production region. These wines may also undergo tasting by the Ministry of Agriculture.

Simple right? Think you got it? There’s just a bit more to Italian wine laws (Classico, Riserva, Passito), but I’ll save that for next week’s post.

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