Reading Italian Wine Labels

Tuesday, July 31st, 2007 at 12:00 am

red wineEach country offers a different kind of labeling for their wines. With each country following a different labeling system, it would surely be easy for foreigners to get confused in trying to read the different labeling information found in bottles of wine coming from a different country.

It is very important for wine dealers and wine experts to be able to decipher what these differences in labeling would be and try to interpret the labels according to the system that each country uses.

In a country such as Italy, wine labels should be treated differently fro those that are being used from another country. Ordinary wine collectors would easily be confused with the information that they find in a typical Italian wine label simply because they use a different system.

Winery name

Such confusion may arise since Italian wine labels usually do not indicate the winery name prominently. They are usually relegated at the very bottom of the label and even abbreviated that any ordinary foreign wine expert would be clueless to decipher.


Another confusing aspect of some Italian wine labels is that the name marked on the bottle can indicate either the name of the grape or the place where the grape variety was grown. It would take a bit of homework for wine experts to be able to distinguish if the wine is labeled for the type of grape or the place where it was grown.

DOC label

Just like any other wine producing country, Italy also follows its own classification system in order to indicate the quality of their wines. In Italian wine labels marked with DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) are wines that are made following certain rules that regulate the type of grape used, the location of production, the maximum yield for each vineyard, the alcohol content as well as the aging process used.

The DOC label is usually being used for select Italian wines that are considered as of the finest quality. Another classification that may be similar to DOC is the DOCG or Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita. The only difference is that the wines classified in the latter are made to undergo a blind taste test for quality in addition to the strict legal requirements for the DOC designation.

IGT classification

Italian wines can also be classified as IGT or Indicazione Geografica Tipica which indicate wines that are coming from a more specific region within Italy. This is a current appellation to classify the newer Italian wines that do not follow the strict, old wine laws but are considered as great quality wines. The IGT was created in order to separate better quality wines from being labeled as Vino da Tavola.

The Vino da Tavola simply denotes wine from Italy and has the same classification as those considered as table wines. Wines classified with this mark on the label are Italian wines that do not follow current wine regulations in the country.


Leave a Reply