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Wine Wisdoms #23: Some Abbreviation Clarification

Thursday, February 19th, 2009 at 1:58:44 PM
by Erika S., Wine Enthusiast Companies

Italian Wine Classification

There are many abbreviations on wine labels, especially for European wines. These abbreviations refer to the wine classification systems of  each country. They often denote the quality level of the wine and the region that the wine comes from. These abbreviations are based on laws and have governing bodies in each country to enforce the laws. Here are some of the major abbreviations you should be familiar with:

VDT- Vino de Tavola, table wine
IGT- Wine made in a specific region but with less wine making restrictions than other classifications. Some top Italian wines are IGT, like the Super Tuscans
DOC- Denominazione di Origine Controllata, Wine from a specific region and made from a particular grape variety. Toscano is a DOC, for example.
DOCG-Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita, Wines from a specific region and made from a particular grape variety that also must pass a blind taste test of quality. Brunello is a DOCG, for example.

- Vin de Table, bulk wine with the least requirements, can be made anywhere in the country
Vin de pays, classifications based on region but with broad restrictions on grape varieties and winemaking practices
AOC- Appellation d’Origine Controlee, a top quality wine with specific requirements varying in each region based on areas of production, permitted grape varieties, viticultural practices and more. Bordeaux is an AOC, for example.

QbA- Quality wine from a specific region, one of 13 German wine-growing regions.
QmP- Higher quality wine with certain attributes, normally referring to the sweetness level.

VdM- Vino de Mesa, Table wines with flexible rules.
VdIT- Vinos de la Tierra, classifications based on region but with broad rules in other aspects.
DO- Denominació d’Origen in Catalan, Mainstream quality wine with specific designations for region and grape varieties.
DOCa- Denominació d’Origen Qualificada in Catalan, wine with specific regional designation from a region with a history of quality. Rioja is a DOCa, for example.

Is your head spinning yet? You’ll notice that a lot of these abbreviations have corresponding levels in each country. For example, “DOCa” in Spain is similar to “DOCG” in Italy and “VDM” in Spain is similar to “VDT” in France. It can be a task to remember these abbreviations but it can do wonders for your label literacy. Any questions? Leave a comment.

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2 Responses to “Wine Wisdoms #23: Some Abbreviation Clarification”

  1. What about Poriuguese Wines. We have the best wines of the Wourld. Where are our abbreviations, Portugal is in Europoe. You must be more profissional.
    My regards

  2. Hi Francisco, thanks for your comment. I did not forget about Portugal but in the interest of brevity I left it off and selected the 4 most popular winegrowing countries in Europe. I do know that Portugal has its own classification system: VdM, VR, IPR, DOC and CVR. I didn’t mean to offend you. I personally love Portuguese wines, especially Alentejo!

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