If you are anything like me, you consider the world of Italian wines to be downright overwhelming. When you are unfamiliar with producers from other countries, how can you ensure you are going to be buying a decent bottle of wine? Is that cheapie at Trader Joes really any good?
The U.S. imports more Italian wines, than wines from any other country. Suffice it to say, you are going to encounter Italian choices somewhere along your wine journey. A lot of that wine has been cheaper, mass produced examples like Soave Bolla, Chianti in the raffia bottle, Lambrusco or Asti Spumante. What is beneficial for you to know is that Italy has a controlled appellation system that regulates the wine produced throughout the country. Wine must meet certain production and vinification criteria to receive certain ratings–those ratings/words will appear on bottle labels.
Here is what you should look for:
Vino da Tavola –Italy’s mass produced wine
IGT (Indicazione Geografica Tipica)–Italian wines that exhibit characteristics of a certain region; they can be interesting–but they can also flop. This category is sometimes a landing spot for rogue/creative wine producers who don’t like to follow the rules (heard of the Super Tuscans), don’t count it out entirely.
DOC (Denominazione di Origene Controllata)–These are wines from a controlled origin with higher standards set for winemaking practices. Smaller yields, longer aging, certain blend percentages, etc. These are good, but there can still be some wines that fall through the cracks. You can go for these, but I like the next level.
DOCG (Denominazione di Origene Controllata e Guarantita) –Additional criteria set beyond DOC levels. Essentially guaranteed to be a well made example of the varietal and area. You’ll find a rectangular strip of paper labelled DOCG running along the side of the bottle near the top.
Be sure the next time you want to enjoy a Chianti Classico, a Barbera, or a Barolo…..search out a DOCG example. I think you’ll be happy. Arrivaderci!! xoxoSusan