Italian Wine Classifications – Getting to know DOCG, DOC, IGT and VdT

Italian Wine Classifications – Getting to know DOCG, DOC, IGT and VdT

There are four classifications of wine produced in Italy. These categories correspond to designations that encompass laws to protect the quality and authenticity of Italian wines.

At the highest and most strict level is Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita—more easily known as “DOCG.” It denotes that wines have controlled (controllata) wine production methods, and have a guaranteed (garantita) wine quality. The rules governing the production of DOCG wine include permitted wine grapes, maximum yield limits, grape ripeness at harvest (which correlates with potential alcohol in the resulting wine), wine-making techniques, and minimum time spent in barrel or bottle prior to release.  

In addition, DOCG wines are subjected to a taste test and chemical analysis by the governing body prior to bottling. There are 74 DOCGs defined in Italy, most of which are in Piedmont, Veneto, and Tuscany.

The next classification is Denominazione di Origine Controllata or “DOC.”  This is the main tier of Italian wine classification. The wines are scrutinized for quality control but regulations in this designation are less strict than wines with the DOCG designation. There are about 330 DOCs defined, and each has its own unique set of laws governing the defined growing region, permitted grape varieties, and wine style.  Wines like Chianti, Barolo, and Amarone della Valpolicella are all in the DOC classification.

The third classification is Vino da Tavola and is abbreviation as “VdT.” This table wine category represented the lowest quality wines, but also covered any wine that didn’t conform to DOCG or DOC laws and regulations. This meant that wines like the Super Tuscans such as Villa Antinori’s Tignanello and Tenuta san Guido’s Sassicaisa that fetched some of the highest prices in Italy had to be labelled Vino da Tavola because they included grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah. These grapes were not allowable in wine with either the DOCG or the DOC designation.

Prior to 1992, there were only three classifications of wine in Italy. In that year, the fourth classification of wine, called Indicazione Geografica Tipica, also known as “IGT,” was adopted. This designation falls between DOC and VdT and means that the wine is typical of those produced in a specific area or region. This designation was added to help allow wines like Super Tuscans to be recognized for their quality, rather than fall into the VdT classification. The additional designation also allowed the government to apply higher taxes to these wines.

This Saturday, July 27th, 2019, at City Vino, we have Chris Halferty from The Robins Cellars pouring wines from their Small Vineyards Collection that include the IGT wine Lovo Blossom Rosso Veneto IGT 2018 a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and the indigenous grape Carbinare (an IGT wine because it uses Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc which are not allowable grapes in a DOC wine). As well as two DOC wines. The first the Marchetti Rosso Conero Riserva Marche DOC 2017 a blend of 90% Montepulciano and 10% Sangiovese (a DOC wine because the grapes are grown and the wine is made in a DOC designed area, and it is made from allowable grapes). Secondly the Poderi Elia Dolcetto d'Alba Piedmont DOC 2017 is 100% Dolcetto (a DOC wine because the grapes are grown and the wine is made in a DOC designated area, and it is made from allowable grapes).  Hope you have learned a little something and will join us at City Vino to taste some wines.






  1. Rita Allan Rita Allan

    Prosecco, like most sparkling wines, are not normally "vintage" wines. During exceptional years wine makers might produce single year (vintage) sparkling wines. So in most situations any year you can find in re-guards to a "Non-Vintage (NV)" wine would be when it was bottled, not the year the grape were harvested. If you have any additional questions just give us a call at (540)-368-0400. Cheers!

  2. Paul Geach Paul Geach

    I recieved 2 bottles of prosecco with a DOC seal. But i can't find the vintage year of the wine anywhere on the bottle labels. Using the certificate numbers, is the a way to find out the vintage of the prosecco? I'm guessing it's probably within the last 5 years but how do I know for sure?

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