DOC, DOCG, DOP: What do all of these labels mean?

TypicIf you take a trip to the local supermercato or specialty grocer while in Florence, you will notice that many of the food items as well as the bottles of wine feature a special label called a marchio di qualità or mark of quality. These labels, established by both the European Union (for food products) and Italy (for wine) enable consumers to know that they are buying high quality products that were made using traditional methods. While these labels are excellent at helping to inform the consumer about a certain product, they aren’t really all that useful if you don’t know what the acronym stands for. Today’s blog post will be a quick guide to the various marchi di qualità on the Italian food and wine scene.

Food:

  • DOP: Denominazione di Origine Protetta (Protected Designation of Origin)
    • This label ensures that ALL of the phases of production for a certain food item have taken place within a certain geographic area and follow all of the traditional methods of preparation. For example, if you were buying prosciutto di Parma, the pigs must be raised near Parma, the butchering must be done in Parma, and the meat must be cured and packaged in Parma.
  • IGP: Indicazione Geografica Protetta (Protected Geographical Indication)
    • This label indicates that at least one of the stages of production has taken place within a certain geographic area and follows the traditional methods of preparation. For example, if you were purchasing Vitellone Bianco dell’Appennino Centrale IGP (beef from the Chianina cow of the central Appennines), the animal may have been raised in the central Appenines, but perhaps the meat was butchered and packaged in Lombardy.
  • STG: Specialità Tradizionale Garantita (Traditional Speciality Guaranteed)
    • The STG label indicates that the product was made using traditional methods, but was not produced within an indicated geographic area. For example, if you purchase mozzarella with the STG label, it could have been produced anywhere in Italy or perhaps even in Germany or Switzerland. However, the producers still followed traditional methods in making the mozzarella.

Wine:

  • DOCG: Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita
    • The DOCG label is the most prestigious marchio di qualità that an Italian wine can have and indicates that the wine was produced in a specific geographic area and that all of the phases of production (growing the grapes, making wine, aging the wine, bottling the wine, etc.) also took place in that area. In addition, the DOCG label guarantees that the wine will be good as it must be made under the strictest methods of production.
  • DOC: Denominazione di Origine Controllata
    • This label indicates that all of the phases of production took place within a certain geographic area and the wine adheres to the standards set by the industry in terms of color, acidity, odor, etc. However, a DOC label does not necessarily that the wine will taste good–although much of the time, it does!
  • IGT: Indicazione Geografica Tipica
    • The IGT is generally applied to table wines. The standards are less restrictive than they are with DOC and DOCG wines and the methods of production can take place in a much larger geographical area.

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