Certifications: ancient tradition in your pantry

A guide to italian certifications

DOP, IGP, DOC, DOCG are letters often found on the label of your favorite Italian food and drink, but what do they mean? Acronyms like IGP and DOP show that the product is legally guaranteed by the European Union to be “authentic” or made in the original town or region with real ingredients. Beyond saving ancient traditions, the product actually tastes better. The need for guaranteed authentic products began in the last century, when Italy’s food and wine producers found themselves in trouble: as “Italian cuisine” gained popularity in the U.S. and abroad, the market was flooded with low-quality olive oil, cheese, prosciutto and wine, sold under the guise of the high-quality products they mimicked.

To protect its culinary reputation, Italy worked with the European Union to create legal certifications that encourage food and wine producers to focus on quality, tradition, and reliability. To earn the labels, producers must adhere to a strict set of guidelines, overseen by the government.


IGP – Indicazione Geografica Protetta

The IGP label shows that the quality or reputation of your food or condiment is linked to the place or region where it is produced, processed or prepared.


IGT – Indicazione Geografica Tipica

The IGT label refers to wines whose production takes place in the respective geographical indication, the grapes come for at least 85% exclusively from that geographical area, with the indication of the organoleptic characteristics. Wines recognized with the IGT label are certainly created with specific grapes, but not from a restricted and well indicated territory, as opposed to DOC and DOCG marks.


D.O.P – Denominazione di Origine Protetta

The DOP label guarantees that your favorite product is produced, processed and packaged in a specific geographical zone and according to tradition. Each step, from production to packaging, is regulated.


D.O.C. – Denominazione di origine controllata

Regarding wine, unlike IGT, the DOC definitions will usually specify additional more stringent rules regarding permitted grape varieties, harvest yields, minimum ageing including use of barrels, minimum alcohol content and other factors.


D.O.C.G. – Denominazione di origine controllata e garantita

DOCG is intended to be a superior classification to DOC and is the highest classification in Italy. All DOCG wines from each producer are analysed and tasted by government–licensed judgement panel before being bottled. The rules for the DOCG wine usually require more stringent quality controls. These controls are a combination of a lower proportion of blending grapes, lower yields, higher minimum alcohol, longer ageing requirements and so on.

Organic – Certificazione Biologica

Organic certification is granted to companies after they have undergone a series of checks throughout the production chain: the start of cultivation, processing and distribution of organic products, as well as their import, is subject to European regulations that determine their standards, the control system, the characteristics of labelling and how to import them.

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