As an Italian restaurant that offers an excellent selection of Italian wines, we would like to bring some insight into the Italian appellation system that is valid until today.

First time in 1963 the first Italian official system of classification of wines was launched. Since then there have been several modifications and additions that have been made to the legislation.  The major one happened in 1992. The last change was introduced in 2010, and as a result, four basic categories of Italian wines have been established.

These four categories are in line with the recent EU regulation in the matter of wine (2008-2009). And these four categories from the bottom to the top are as follow:

  • Vini (these wines are also informally called the ‘generic wines’). These are wines that can be produced anywhere in the territory of the EU. They do not require having indication of geographical origin, the variety of grapes, or the vintage on the label. In this occasion the label only reports the colour of the wine.
  • Vini Varietali (Varietal wines), these are generic wines that are made from one kind of authorised ‘international’ grapes (Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Sauvignon blanc, Syrah) presenting at least 85% of this grapes, or they can be made entirely from two or more of them. In this case the grape(s) and the vintage can be indicated on the label. However, the prohibition to indicate the geographical origin is still maintained, and these wines can be produced anywhere in the territory of the EU.
  • Vini IGP (Wines with Protected Geographical Indication). This category is also implemented in Italy as IGT (Typical Geographical Indication) and is reserved to wines produced in a specific territory within Italy. These wines need to follow a series of specific and precise regulations on authorised varieties, organoleptic and chemico-physical characteristics and labelling instructions, etc. In 2016 there exist 118 IGPs/IGTs.
  • Vini DOP (Wines with Protected Designation of Origin). This category includes two sub-categories. Vini DOC (Controlled Designation of Origin) and Vini DOCG (Controlled and Guaranteed Designation of Origin). DOC wines must have been in the IGP category for at least five years. They come from smaller regions, within certain IGP territory. They have specific geological characteristics and the quality and originality of the local winemaking traditions. A DOC wine can be promoted to DOCG if it has been a DOC for at least ten years. Also before commercialization DOCG wines must pass stricter analyses, including a tasting by a specifically appointed committee. DOCG wines have also demonstrated a superior commercial success. In 2016 there exist 332 DOCs and 73 DOCGs for a total of 405 DOPs.

We hope that this article enlightens your knowledge when you are shopping for Italian wines next time!