THElabeling of Italian wine it is a complex world made up of a set of compulsory or optional indications that change according to the classification of the wine. For this the information I'm going to give you are a lot precious not only foraspiring sommelier in order not only to pass the AIS exam - or any other association -, but also for thepassionate about wine or the average consumer who needs to learn how to choose what to drink. Just as we read the label of any product in the supermarket, we should also read the wine label to be aware of what we are buying.

What is the label in a bottle of wine and what is it for?

The label is the identity card of the wine, the document that certifies the legal requirements for marketing. On the one hand it protects the consumer and facilitates his choices, on the other hand it allows the producer to transmit all the information he deems useful to encourage the purchase of his wine.

Italian wine labeling: 

From the new wine CMO, the label must contain some mandatory information and there may be some optional indications, provided they are expressly provided for by the legislation. The mandatory particulars must appear on the container in the same field of vision so that they can be read simultaneously without having to turn the container and must be presented in indelible characters and clearly distinguishable from all other written indications and drawings. Mandatory and optional indications when expressed in words must be in one or more of the official languages ​​of the EC.

Italian wine labeling: what are the mandatory indications?

  • category of wine product (wine, liqueur wine, sparkling wine, sparkling wine ...), can only be omitted if the indication of designation of origin or geographical indication or traditional term is present;
  • name and expression of the PDO or PGI or, in substitution or addition, the traditional DOC or DOCG or IGT mention;
  • actual alcoholic strength by volume expressed in% vol: the value shown on the label may deviate from approximately 0.5% vol compared to that of the results of the analyzes carried out on the product. This tolerance rises to 0.8% vol for wines aged more than 3 years and for sparkling, sparkling and liqueur wines;
  • origin and origin;
  • vintage of the grapes (DOC and DOCG) only if at least 85% of the grapes come from the same vintage;
  • references to the bottler (name and / or brand and address);
  • sugar content (only for sparkling wines): natural brut or zero dosage, extra brut, brut, extra dry, dry, demi-sec, medium sweet, sweet;
  • presence of allergens such as sulfur dioxide (wording “Contains sulphites”);
  • packing lot;
  • indication of the quantity of the container.

Italian wine labeling: what are the optional indications?

  • reference (name, trademark, address) to other operators involved in the supply chain (producer, distributor…);
  • use of terms such as abbey, castle, fortress… referring to the farm on condition that all transformation operations take place in the area mentioned;
  • Community logo on the presence of allergens;
  • vintage of the grapes, only if at least 85% of the grapes come from the same vintage;
  • grape varieties, but only if belonging to the types admitted by MIPAAF in compliance with the CMO;
  • grape varieties: only one vine can be named if this represents at least 85% of the varieties used, two or more varieties can be named if they represent 100% of the varieties used;
  • sugar content - only for non-sparkling wines: dry (<4 g / l, <9 g / l only if the total acidity is NOT <2 g / l), sweet (<12 g / l and <18 g / l only if the total acidity expressed in g / l is NOT <10 g / l), sweet (sugar between 12 and 45 g / l), sweet (sugar> 45 g / l) to be used based on the residual sugar content in the wine;
  • indications relating to the aging and / or processing method: Superiore, Novello or Novello wine…;
  • Community symbols of the PDO / PGI;
  • references to the production method for non-sparkling PDO / PGI wines: fermented in cask, aged in cask, aged in cask… possibly followed by the name of the wood (French oak, Slavonian…);
  • references to the production method for PDO / PGI sparkling wines: fermented in bottle, classic method, traditional method, traditional classic method, crémant.

How to read the label of a bottle of wine

Never forget that wine is first of all a food and for this it must be not only good, but also healthy. First of all, the label protects you as a consumer as what must be reported corresponds to a series of rules and protocols that the producer must follow.

Italian wine labeling: table wines

When we talk about table wine we often think of lower quality wines, but this is not always true. In fact, it is not rare that winemakers decide to produce their best wines without following any regulations. In any case, the label of a table wine must follow a very precise structure and respect some rules provided for by the EC Regulation 479/2008. There wording "wine" affixed to the label tells you that that product:

  • is obtained from the alcoholic fermentation partial or total of fresh grapes - pressed or not - or grape must;
  • has a'total acidity expressed in tartaric acid not less than 3,5 g / l.

The mandatory information is:

  • the wording "wine";
  • the country of production (eg. Made in Italy);
  • the bottler;
  • the production batch;
  • the alcoholic strength;
  • the volume of the vessel.

The optional information is:

  • any adjective indicating the color (red, white or pink);
  • any adjective "liqueur" if the alcoholic strength exceeds 15% vol.

The prohibited information is:

  • vintage of harvest;
  • grape variety or varieties used.

Italian wine labeling: IGP wines

IGP means Protected Geographical Indication and has replaced the traditional IGT nomenclature.

The mandatory information is:

  • type (eg Toscana Rosso);
  • classification (eg PGI) written in full (Protected Geographical Indication);
  • sulphites indication;
  • vintage (only for still wines);
  • the country of production (eg. Made in Italy);
  • the bottler;
  • the production batch;
  • the alcoholic strength;
  • the volume of the vessel.

The optional information is:

  • produttore
  • commercial name
  • trademark
  • possible symbol of organic agriculture;
  • any adjective "liqueur" if the alcoholic strength exceeds 15% vol.

The prohibited information is:

  • / In general, the specification must be respected.

Italian wine labeling: DOP wines

PDO means Protected Designation of Origin and has replaced the traditional DOC nomenclature - Controlled Designation of Origin - and DOCG - Controlled and Guaranteed Designation of Origin - even if these are often still present on the labels.

The mandatory information is:

  • type (eg Romagna Sangiovese);
  • classification (eg DOP) written in full (Protected Designation of Origin);
  • sulphites / allergens indication;
  • vintage (only for still wines);
  • possible symbol of organic agriculture;
  • the country of production (eg. Made in Italy);
  • the bottler;
  • the production batch;
  • the alcoholic strength;
  • the volume of the vessel.

The optional information is:

  • producer;
  • commercial name;
  • trademark;
  • indication of a precise geographical area;
  • indication of the production method;
  • any symbol of organic agriculture (mandatory in the traditional DOCG label);
  • any adjective "liqueur" if the alcoholic strength exceeds 15% vol.

The prohibited information is:

  • / In general, the specification must be respected.

As always, I hope I have been helpful. For any questions or insights, I invite you to leave me a comment below!

Cheers 🥂

Chiara

How to become a sommelier

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Everything you need to know about wine in one book. The manual is designed for all aspiring sommeliers, but it is also very useful for "already sommeliers" who want to revise, for winelovers who want to start giving concrete foundations to their passion and for sector operators who want to earn more by learning both managing the cellar of their restaurant and selling the right bottle to their customers.

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