Here's why there's so much confusion:
1. The winery name often is not prominently displayed on the label!
Sometimes it appears in very small print at the bottom of the label and sometimes it's
even abbreviated to a bunch of unintelligible letters.
can you decipher if the name of the wine is a grape or a place?
Not without doing a bunch of homework! Some wines are labeled with the grape
name being the most prominent on the label and other wines take the name of the place
where the fruit was grown as the wine "type."
3. What's up "DOC"?
The initials "DOC" indicate the wine is made according to certain rules
which regulate the type of grape(s), the area of production, the maximum amount of tonnage
in the vineyard, the minimum alcohol content, the aging of the wine in wood (if
applicable) as well as in bottle.
4. What's "DOCG"?
The "G" stands for "garantita," like there's a guarantee of
quality. The only "guarantee" is that the wine is supposed to come from
where it's supposed to come from and we're, frankly, not putting much faith in that,
5. What's "IGT"?
This designation is the equivalent of a French "Vin de Pays" and
signifies "Indicazione geografica tipica." It is supposed to
provide the consumer with more information on a wine label rather than having, simply,
"vino da tavola" and no other info.
6. Why are "Vino da Tavola" sometimes cheap and sometimes
Many wineries make wines outside the DOC rules and regulations. These wines
allow the winemaker to run wild and unimpeded by the local traditions. As a result,
some of Italy's best wines have not had any sort of "appellation" or
"denominazione," so wines such as "Sassicaia" had been relegated to
simple "vino da tavola" status, much like the plonk you might find in a bulk
demijohn in the local trattoria being served in something barely more classy than a
7. Why the confusion?
Because it's Italy! There are something like 3,200 different wine types
being made in Italy. Sorting through these is like looking for a particular strand
of spaghetti in a huge, family-sized bowl!