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What Is DOC Italian Wine?

Written and Produced by Tony Margiotta

what is doc italian wine

what is doc italian wine

DOC is short for Denominazione di Orgine Controllata. It very common to see these words on the front and back labels of an Italian wine bottle. It literally means “denomination of origin controlled.”

The Italian government created a system of wine classifications to ensure that wineries in Italy follow certain quality standards.

DOC is one of the 3 main Italian wine classifications: DOCG, DOC, and IGT

The DOCG has the strictest set of guidelines to obtain the classification, followed by DOC and then IGT.

What Are The Rules For DOC Italian Wine?

What DOC really means is that the wine’s place of origin, the place where the vineyards are located, and the cellar where the wine is produced are located within the borders of a specific territory. The DOC classification also requires that a wine be made a certain way and the amount of grapes a winery is allowed to grow per surface area in a vineyard.

By controlling “yield,” the amount of grapes a winery can grow per hectare, the quality of a wine can be increased or decreased. A general rule would be the higher the yield, the lower the quality of wine.

Another important rule to get a DOC classified Italian wine is that it must contain anywhere from 75%-90% of the predoinante grape varietal for a particular type of wine.

Other guidelines include aging process rules and minimum alcohol percentages. Each wine type that has a DOC classification will have different rules but they are very similar from one to the next.

Let’s look at a specific wine type to illustrate grape percentage rules for DOC Italian wine.

Barbera d’Alba DOC

In order for a Barbera d’Alba to get the DOC classification, the wine must be made with at leaste 85% Barbera grapes. The only other grape allowed to be blended with Barbera is Nebbiolo, another grape varietal from the territory. Nebbiolo can be used in this wine type but no more than 15%. So a Barbera d’Alba DOC could be 85% Barbera, 15% Nebbiolo. It could also be 90% Barbera, and 10% Nebbiolo. It could also be just 100% Barbera which is my personal preference for an authentic Barbera d’Alba DOC.

4 Things You Should Know About DOC Italian Wine

1.  DOC is a classification based on regulated quality standards

2.  DOC is the second highest or strictest classification in the Italian wine regulation system

3.  DOC classifications are tied to wine zones/territories/appellations

4.  DOC classifications regulate the amount of grapes grown, blend percentages, aging process, alcohol levels, and where the vineyards and cellars can be located.

Inside Scoop On DOC Wine

DOC Italian wines can actually be broken down into two categories: an Appellation-based DOC and a Regional DOC.

An appellation-based DOC covers a much smaller and targeted area of land that shows of a very distinct wine with unique characteristics. If you look at a DOC map of Piemonte, you’ll see two separate DOC zones for Barbera: Barbera d’Alba DOC and Barbera d’Asti DOC. The two DOC zones have borders because the two wine types are distinct different in character which all ties back to the land, the soil, and microclimate.

A regional DOC means that the wine can be made virtually anywhere in the native region of a particular wine type.

An example of a regional DOC would be a Cannonau di Sardegna DOC. Virtually any winery in the region of Sardegna can make a DOC classified Cannonau provided they follow the remainder of the regulations such as grape yield and blend percentage.

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what is doc italian wine


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