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What is DOP? What is DOCG? Understanding Italian Food and Wine Labels

Acronyms often found on the labels of your favorite Italian foods and wines, but what do they mean?





Acronyms like IGP and DOP show that the product — be it pecorino or prosciutto — is legally guaranteed by the European Union to be "authentic," or made in the original town or region with real ingredients.


ITALIAN LABELS FOR FOOD & CONDIMENTS



DOP

Denominazione d’Origine Protetta | Protected Designation of Origin

Created by the EU, DOP ensures that your favorite cheeses, fruits and vegetables, salumi (cured meats), balsamic vinegars, and olive oils are all grown, produced, and packaged within a designated zone and according to tradition. Every step, from production to packaging, is regulated.

This mark separates Parmigiano Reggiano DOP from parmesan cheese, San Marzano dell'Agro Sarnese Nocerino DOP from regular tomatoes, and Aceto Balsamico di Modena IGP from the thin balsamic condiment you might drizzle over a salad.




IGP

Indicazione Geografica Protetta | Indication of Geographical Protection

Similar to DOP, this certification represents food and condiments. However, it is less strict, tracing food specialties solely back to their geographical location to at least one phase in production. IGP is a good reference (but does not guarantee all phases, like DOP).





ITALIAN LABELS FOR WINE




DOC and DOCG

Denominazione di Origine Controllata (E Garantita) | Controlled (and Guaranteed) Designation of Origin

Introduced in 1963, DOC pertains solely to wines produced in a specific geographic zone from an officially permitted grape varietal.

The DOCG category is reserved for the highest quality wines from Italy. In addition to the conditions required for DOC, the wines must be "guaranteed" by passing a blind tasting test, administered by officials from the government. Since 1992, there have been additional limitations on permitted yields and natural alcohol levels, ensuring that the wines that meet the criteria for this prestigious category are undoubtedly the best that Italy has to offer





IGT

Indicazione Geografica Tipica

Indication of Typical Geography

The IGT classification was introduced in 1992 to acknowledge the wines that do not fit into the DOC or DOCG categories but are of superior quality. In particular, the much-lauded "Super Tuscan" wines, made from nontraditional grapes, could not be considered for DOC; however, they deserved recognition. This has also provided an opportunity for winemakers to experiment with grape varieties that are perhaps not native to their region, and truly interesting wines have emerged.






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