DOCG, DOC, IGT, VdT: What Do They Mean?

      Have you ever seen letters on the neck of an Italian bottle of wine and thought, what the heck does this mean..? Well you’re not alone. Many people don’t know what these letters mean, however, they can help you decide on the quality of wine you may want to purchase. So, I’m here to break these down for you in the most simple fashion. In order to demonstrate authenticity to the wine region and also the wine quality, Italians created a government committee with strict guidelines to pursue these very things. DOCG is the highest ranking on the scale, and stands for Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita. If a wine is ranked DOCG, it means that the company has met all of the strict regulations and the wine holds true to its authenticity. The DOCG ranking is not all that common, as the committee wants to stay persistent with its ranking system.
       Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC), is the second tier of the ranking scale. Very common among Italian wines, DOC wines follow most of the rules provided by the committee but not all of them. An example of something that may vary in DOCG-DOC status would be the size of the geographic zone or the rulings on which grapes are used. IGT, or Indicazione Geografica Tipica is the third highest ranking on the scale, however, it does not mean that the wine is bad or undrinkable.
       You can still find a good bottle of wine, potentially by a producer who is less known or does not have as much money to be completely qualified, yet has been making great wine for years. This is also true for second tier ranked DOC wines. VdT or Vino da Tavola wines are basic table wines that do not meet nearly any of the standards by the committee. They are basically produced for local consumption in the growing region and are not hugely available for resale here in the United States. So next time you are searching for a high-quality Italian wine, make sure to check out the neck of the bottles, looking for the most authentic DOCG and DOC labels.