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There are several terms that must be printed on the label of every bottle of wine that denote the country or specific smaller region within a country where the wine was made, and that it met certain criteria which allow the wine to carry that (often prestigious) region's name on its label. Wines from tightly controlled regions demand higher prices than wines from larger regions which frequently require fewer specific production standards. The specifics of those winemaking standards can be daunting and geeky but it may be important to you to know the terms first.
The European Union has long ago, but updated in 2011, implemented a labelling system that can be generalized to indicate two levels of quality and production standards. Add to this, most countries also have their own designations that indicate even stricter minimum standards and the law permits those terms as well.
In the EU, top-level wines must display the term Protected Designation of Origin, or PDO, on the label. The next (lower) quality level is labeled as Protected Geographical Indication, or PGI. Of course, those are English words and so, to suit their language, Italy uses the acronym D.O.P. in place of PDO. France has its term as does Spain, Germany, and so on.
If this isn't confusing enough, individual countries are not required, and seldom do, use the EU terms to comply with this law. Instead, the European Union permits countries to use their own terms providing they indicate production standards at least as strict or stricter than what is mandated by the PDO and PGI terms.
So, more frequently, this is what you'll see.
Italy: PDO wines are labeled Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG), or Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC).
PGI wines are labeled Indicazione Geographica Tipica (IGT)
France: PDO wines are Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC) or Appellation d'Origine Protégée (AOP) while PGI wines are labeled as Indication Géographic Protégée (IGP), or Vin de Pays (VdP)
Spain: PDO wines are labeled as Denominación de Origen Calificada (DOCa), or Denominación de Origen (DO) while PGI wines are labeled as Vino de la Terra.
Germany: PDO wines are Qualitätswein or Prädikatswein, and PGI as Landwein.
So, there you have it. One of the least knowable things in the world. But you have to be able to recognize all of these terms if you want some idea of what you're buying.
**Photo courtesy of Wine-Searcher.com
An NYC born and raised Italian-American in love with the world of Italian Wine. Former Buyer. Moving on to learn as much as I can and teach about the confusing and inspiring gifts sent to us by Italian winemakers.