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The wines of Italy have an extremely long history that dates back to pre-Roman Empire days.  There is an incredible diversity in the wines, grapes, growing conditions and wineries of Italy.  There are hundreds of grape varieties in use, well over a million licensed wineries and a yearly production of more than 700 million gallons.  This all takes place in a country that is about 2/3 the size of the state of California.

Most of the wine produced in Italy is used for distilling or is, at best, 'everyday table wine'.  Only about one fourth of Italian wine is of sufficient quality to be classed as either DOC or DOCG quality.  Over the last 20 years, though, there has been marked improvement in the overall quality of the wines of Italy.  This improvement has been driven by the expectations of consumers, changes in regulations in the European Economic Community and changes in wine regulations within Italy.

The best of the wines in Italy qualify for designation as DOC or DOCG quality.  To receive either of these designations, the winery must comply to regulations about the place where the grapes were grown, which grape varieties were included, how many tons were harvested per acre and a minimum level of alcohol that is in the wine.  A winery that fails to comply with these regulations for a particular wine may have their entire production of that wine declassified as Vino da Tavola (basic table wine).  This is the lowest possible ranking and is an economic disaster for the winery. 


Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita

'Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita' is currently the top classification given to Italian wines.  This category is intended to give consumers confidence in the origin and quality of the wines.  They have a government seal on the capsule that indicates they have gone through the mandatory testing and tasting before bottling.  The primary difference between DOC and DOCG wines is that there is an accepted system of actually tasting the wines submitted for DOCG classification.  Submitted wines must have the characteristics historically associated with the wines of their region.  This is a list of those regions whose wines have been awarded the DOCG classification.

Albania di Romagna Gattinara
Asti Ghemme
Barbaresco Montefalco Sagrantino
Barolo Moscato d'Asti
Brachetto d'Acqui                  Taurasi                     
Brunello di Montalcino Torgiano Rosso Riserva           
Carmignano Vermentino di Gallura
Chianti Vernaccia di San Gimignano       

Vino Nobile di Montepulciano