8: What does DOC/DOCG mean? Wine labels 101

by | Dec 22, 2020 | Podcast | 0 comments

DOC and DOCG are letters that you often see  on the necks of  bottles of Italian wine. But have you ever wondered what they mean and what the difference is between the two?

DOCG and DOC are both quality classifications set forth by the Ministry of Agriculture. Under Italian wine law DOCG is the highest designation of quality among Italian wines, with DOC coming in second.

Ready for some complex sounding Italian words? DOCG stands for Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (Denomination of Controlled and Guaranteed Origin, DOCG).

DOC instead stands for Denominazione di Origine Controllata (Denomination of Controlled Origin).

In order to be deemed a DOC wine, there are many strict guidelines the vineyard must follow. For example,the production area, wine color, permitted grape varieties and max/min proportions of said grapes, styles of wine, max/min alcohol levels, and even watering practices are all regulated and controlled. Today, there are 330 DOC wines following these strict rules, available.

The DOCG wine designation was invented instead to differentiate the top Italian wines, as there was a general feeling that the DOC status was a bit too lenient. The regulations for DOCG wines are even tighter and more restrictive than for DOC. There are 73 wines that have earned this highest designation, all over Italy.

Fun fact: Italians will use DOC to refer to someone from a certain region or city when they are born and raised there, with generations coming from the same city. For example, I could say, “La mia amica Alice è fiorentina DOC.” “My friend Alice is Fiorentina DOC.” Meaning she is pure-blooded Florentine.

Hope this helped decode Italian wine a bit, I’ll raise a glass to drinking made easy! Cin cin!

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Ciao, I'm Rachel

I am obsessed with everything Italian! After years living in Italy, being married to an Italian, getting my Italian citezenship through my Pugliese lineage, a BA in Italian language and literature, then a MA in Italian Art History, I have lots of experience with this country! Hang out with me to learn more!