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.
DOP and IGP
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
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
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.