Italy has the most protected foods and wines than any other European country (yes, more than France). This conveys just how much the Italians love their food and wine; and keeping it traditionally produced in beautiful and historic areas. Our little guide helps you navigate the labels and next time you're enjoying:
All protected food and wine comes under two major protection categories. While these categories help interpret the strictness of protection, this should not be confused with quality.
DOP - PROTECTED DESIGNATION OF ORIGIN
The DOP label is the highest protection for food and wine, recognised across Europe. It ensures the strictest requirements on traditional production techniques and geographic constraints. Wine that is DOCG or DOC falls under this broader category; food is simply labelled with DOP.
IGP - PROTECTED GEOGRAPHICAL INDICATION
While less strict than DOP; this label still ensures strong traditional production techniques, but only requires one of the production steps to take place in a specific geographic area. Confusingly, in Italy, food is labelled with IGP, but wine is labelled as IGT; a subtle difference, but the same protection.
Wine breaks down into further subcategories under DOP and IGP:
DOCG - ORIGIN CONTROLLED AND GUARANTEED
The highest protection possible in Italy, this guarantees wine meets strict production and geographic requirements; a very difficult label to attain as it generally requires the winemaker to meet production, geographic and often volumes and number of years in production. Other wines you typically see in Italy, such as Chianti Classico also fall within this category, but to carry the label of Chianti Classico, they also meet other requirements, such as being the specific area or produced with a specific grape.
DOC - ORIGIN CONTROLLED AND GUARANTEED
DOC offers excellent protection and the wines are excellent; they have simply failed to meet some of the stricter DOCG requirements; such as the number of years in production.
IGT - TYPICAL (AKA PROTECTED : IGP) GEOGRAPHICAL INDICATION
This is a traditional implementation of the label, but offering the same protection. Introduced for excellent wines that could not meet some of the stricter DOC/G requirements.
VdT - TABLE WINE
Quite simply this label indicates the wine is from Italy; no further protection guaranteed
...finally... one more worth mentioned, specifically pertaining to food produce:
PAT - TRADITIONAL PRODUCTS
An Italy only (not recognized by the EU) label; it primarily focuses on niche produce that do not meet DOP/IGP status, typically due to their low production volumes; seeing this label probably means you’re eating something rare and very special to a small area.
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