We’ve all had that moment…
Standing in the store with a row of Italian wine bottles in front of us, we start to panic. You’re only trying to buy some bottles of wine for Christmas presents. And maybe you’ll grab a bottle or two for yourself. Plus, you’re going to need some for the Christmas meal
But there are just so many choices.
How do you figure out which bottles of Italian wine are going to be Christmas crackers and which might be absolute turkeys?
We have a simple solution:
Always look for the DOC or DOCG inscription on the label.
In this article, we’re going to explain exactly why seeing DOC or DOCG on a wine label is a good indicator that this is an Italian wine that’s worthy of being a Christmas present.
Reason #1 – Prestige
The DOC and DOCG were both set up several decades ago to help people to better classify their wines. Before the existence of these organizations, wine producers followed fairly loose regional rules when making their products. They were tied only to tradition, which could lead to some producers getting a little too experimental.
On top of that, you had the issue of some low-calibre producers claiming their wines were of a certain type, only for the product to not match the reputation of the wine.
The DOC and DOCG exist to create order, thus leading to an increase in prestige for Italian wines. Both organizations dictate the specific rules that producers need to follow to ensure they’re creating wines that are worthy of both their region and the name attached to the wine. For example, you know that a Chianti that carries the DOC label has been made to a very strict set of standards, thus maintaining the prestige of the wine.
Simply put, DOC and DOCG Italian wines are more prestigious, and thus more desirable, than wines that don’t carry either label.
Reason #2 – The Quality Factor
We touched on it with the above point but it’s worth highlighting in a point of its own.
The DOC and DOCG organizations create quality standards for Italian wine producers. This means that for a wine to carry either label, it has to follow a strict set of rules. This starts with the region, as certain wines can only be made in specific places. The rules also extend to things like the volumes of certain types of grapes that can be used in a wine and the specific methods used in production.
What do all of these rules achieve?
They create consistency.
If we stick with our Chianti example, the DOC rules ensure that every single bottle of wine that carries the famous Chianti name meets a minimum quality standard. And then we have the DOCG label, which enforces even stricter standards to allow the best of the best to stand out further.
When you buy a DOC or DOCG wine, you know that you’re getting a wine that has been put under the microscope to ensure it’s the level of quality that you would expect from an Italian wine producer.
Reason #3 – Ageing Done For You
It’s likely that you know about the importance of ageing a bottle of Italian wine before consuming it. The ageing process allows the wine to slowly alter its chemical composition, thus ensuring its full qualities are on display.
Happily, the DOC and DOCG processes typically include rules around the minimum amount of time a wine should be aged before being made available to the public.
This does not mean your DOC and DOCG wines cannot benefit from additional ageing. Many can go several years before opening. However, the minimum ageing requirements mean you are always going to get a wine that’s ready for you to drink from the moment that you buy it if you go down the DOC or DOCG route.
Reason #4 – Not Taking Risks
There’s another benefit to the many rules a producer must follow to achieve the DOC or DOCG label:
Consumers don’t have to take as big a risk when choosing their wine.
For example, let’s say you have three bottles of Chianti sitting in front of you. It’s likely you’re a little worried about making a poor choice. But as long as all three of those bottles has the DOC label, you can feel safe that it meets a certain quality standard, thus reducing the risk you’re taking when you buy the wine.
Compare that to non-classified or IGT wines. Now, there is nothing stopping these wines from being extremely high quality. In fact, many IGT wines, such as Tignanello, are exceptional. However, the lack of rules governing the creation of these wines means you’re always taking a bit of a risk when you but them.
At least with DOC and DOCG, you know exactly what you’re getting every single time.
Reason #5 – A Sign of Legitimacy
As sad as it is, many unscrupulous people look to take advantage of the fact that Italian wine is a multi-billion-dollar industry. Some go as far as to create counterfeit wines in an attempt to dupe the general public out of their hard-earned money.
The DOC and DOCG labels help you to combat these fraudulent practices.
You can always research a wine that carries the DOC or DOCG label to confirm that it actually deserves the title. What’s more, the presence of these initials is something that many counterfeiters overlook, meaning you can sometimes identify a fake by noticing that it doesn’t have DOC or DOCG on the label when it should.
The Final Word
DOC and DOCG are bywords for legitimacy.
By focusing on these types of wines this Christmas, you can guarantee that you’re buying Italian wines that will hit the spot for anybody who receives them. Best of all, you can feel safe that you’re not wasting your money because the wine that you buy has to reach a certain level of quality before it is allowed to boast the famous initials.
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