The reputation of the pleasures of Italian cuisine is well established. In fact, the heritage of Italian gastronomy is emulated such that it has become necessary to react to preserve its image. The Italian legislation is taking a step to make known the different denominations exclusive to authentic Italian products. These denominations also describe the quality of the products that carry them.

In doing so, Italy is following a tendency spreading throughout the European Union. It serves not only to protect the quality of local agri-food production, but also to reassure consumers of the methods and conditions of processing these food products. Official denominations meet both objectives and have therefore been enthusiastically accepted by both producers and consumers.


Which tools will provide assurance to consumers purchasing a cheese or an olive oil that the product is, in fact, Italian and meets precise standards?

First, the Protected Denomination of Origin (Denominazione di origine protetta or DOP) label may be applied to “agricultural and food products whose qualities and properties are essentially or exclusively derived from their geographical environment, inclusive of natural and human factors, and whose production occurs within a delimited geographical area”.

Correspondingly is the Protected Geographical Indication (Indicazione geografica protetta or IGP) label, which applies to: “agricultural and food products whose qualities and properties or reputation are derived from their geographical origin and whose production and/or transformation and/or processing occur in a given geographical area”. In this case, it is sufficient for just one phase of production to take place in the designated area. These two denominations are protected throughout the European Union.

Especially for wines

Viticulture, the pride of Italian agri-food production, belongs to a category unto itself. The Italian wine industry has clearly expressed its intention to maximize the proportion of classified wines such that the bulk of national production carries a designation.

Classifications commence with the Typical Geographical Indication (Indicazione geografica tipica or IGT). This designation is applied to wine produced in a broadly defined geographical region and from approved grape varieties. The geographic indication is sometimes accompanied by a mention of the variety.

To date, 121 regions of the country have presented their production standards to authorities and have defined them as IGT. In Sardinia, where the interest in designation is particularly high among producers, 15 wines already carry the label.

Next in quality are wines carrying a Controlled Origin Denomination (Denominazione di origine controllata or DOC) label. This quality label is attributed to wines produced in a delimited, usually small to medium sized, area, from precise grape varieties and in accordance with strict production controls. There are more than 300 DOC regions.

One rung higher, is the DOCG quality level (“G” for garantita, indicating “DOC guaranteed”). DOCG wines have qualities which are particularly prized and enjoy a national and international reputation. They are subject to even stricter controls. Italy recognizes 450 wines (of IGT, DOC or DOCG quality). Of this number, only 22 have received the DOCG designation.

Organic food & wine also bear a label

Consumers have higher and higher expectations for cleanliness and environmental protection. Consequently, organic production is making slow but steady progress. In Italy, authorized organizations maintain control by regulating the use of the designation “Organic”.

Rules governing production from the preparation of the soil, planting and right up to the presentation of the product on shelves, determine whether the label may be affixed.

A conforming label

Whether classed IGT, DOC or DOCG, all classified wines carry a label confirming its designation. It includes the name of the producer or bottler, the location where it was bottled, an indication
of the net volume and the percentage of alcohol.


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Trade Promotion Section of the Consulate General of Italy