What's the difference between DOC and DOCG wines in Italy?

Ask Dr Vinny

Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, but you can call me Vinny. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the fine points of etiquette to the science of winemaking. And don't worry, I'm no wine snob—you can also ask me those "dumb questions" you're too embarrased to ask your wine geek friends! I hope you find my answers educational, empowering and even amusing. And don't forget to check out my most asked questions and my full archives for all my Q&A classics.

Dear Dr. Vinny,

What is the most important criteria for distinguishing between DOC and DOCG wines in Italy?

—Miguel, Somerset, Pa.

Dear Miguel,

The Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) is the highest designation for Italian wines, while the Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC), has less strict guidelines.

The point with both of these systems is that there are multiple criteria—not just a single distinguishing factor. DOC wines are regulated for not just the type of grape and where they are grown, but also harvest yields, alcohol levels and the use of barrels. The rules for DOCG are even stricter than DOC—yields must be lower and the wines must be aged in barrels longer, for example. And DOCG includes requiring the wines be submitted for technical analysis and tasted for approval by a government committee before they can be sold as DOCG wines. The DOCG wines even have a numbered, government seal across the neck of the bottle to prevent counterfeiting.

While both of these designations are a helpful start to looking for quality wines from Italy, keep in mind that DOC or DOCG wines might not be to your liking (or your wallet’s) and there are plenty of wonderful Italian wines that carry neither seal.

—Dr. Vinny

Ask Dr. Vinny Italy

More In Dr. Vinny

How can I be sure there are no Concord grapes in my wine?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains what Concord grapes are, and how to ascertain …

Oct 21, 2019

What's the difference between "cooking wine" and regular wine?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains how cooking wine is made.

Oct 18, 2019

Can a tasting note indicate whether a wine was aged in oak or not?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains how oak barrel aging influences Chardonnay.

Oct 16, 2019

What effect does wind have on wine grapes?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains the many ways that wind can influence a vintage.

Oct 14, 2019

Is it OK to freeze wine and drink it later?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains what happens when wine freezes.

Oct 11, 2019

What's the purpose of the small indentation on the back of a wine bottle, near the base?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains what a "keyhole" is on a wine bottle, and why …

Oct 9, 2019
WineRatings+

WineRatings+

Xvalues

Xvalues

Restaurant Search

Restaurant Search