A Guide to Italian Food and Wine Certifications

Acronyms like DOP, IGP, and DOC represent different legal certifications for the origin, production, and quality of Italian food and wine.

They were introduced in the mid-1900s: as Italy’s products gained in popularity, the market was flooded with low-quality food and wine sold under the guise of the high-quality products they mimicked. To protect its culinary reputation, Italy worked with the European Union to create legal certifications that encourage food and wine producers to focus on quality, tradition, and reliability. To earn the labels, producers must adhere to a strict set of guidelines, overseen by the government.


The certifications promise the authenticity – and with that, the tastiness – of a product. We can discover the story of a product just by looking at the label: where it is made, by whom, and with what ingredients.

This translates to you, our customers! By creating and offering the best products, we improve our own lives and bring added value to yours. Enter a world dedicated to quality: that means quality food, quality drink, and ultimately quality time.

But we know that the abundance of acronyms may be overwhelming to navigate at first blush. Check out our guide to Italian certifications, then discover your favorite high-quality Italian products!

DOP: Denominazione d’Origine Protetta | Protected Designation of Origin

Created by the EU, DOP ensures that your favorite cheeses, fruits and vegetables, salumi (cured meats), balsamic vinegars, and olive oils are all grown, produced, and packaged within a designated zone and according to tradition. Every step, from production to packaging, is regulated.

This mark separates Parmigiano Reggiano from parmesan cheese, San Marzano from regular tomatoes, and Balsamic Vinegar of Modena from the thin condiment you might drizzle over a salad.

IGP: Indicazione Geografica Protetta | Indication of Geographical Protection

Similar to DOP, this certification represents food and condiments. However, it is less strict, tracing food specialties solely back to their geographical location to at least one phase in production. IGP is a good reference, but it does not guarantee all phases, like DOP.

DOC and DOCG: Denominazione di Origine Controllata (E Garantita) | Controlled (and Guaranteed) Designation of Origin

Introduced in 1963, DOC pertains solely to wines produced in a specific geographic zone from an officially permitted grape varietal.

The DOCG category is reserved for the highest quality wines from Italy. In addition to the conditions required for DOC, the wines must be “guaranteed” by passing a blind tasting test, administered by officials from the government. Since 1992, there have been additional limitations on permitted yields and natural alcohol levels, ensuring that the wines that meet the criteria for this prestigious category are undoubtedly the best that Italy has to offer

IGT: Indicazione Geografica Tipica | Indication of Typical Geography

The IGT classification was introduced in 1992 to acknowledge the wines that do not fit into the DOC or DOCG categories but are of superior quality. In particular, the much-lauded “Super Tuscan” wines, made from nontraditional grapes, could not be considered for DOC; however, they deserved recognition. This has also provided an opportunity for winemakers to experiment with grape varieties that are perhaps not native to their region, and truly interesting wines have emerged.

Auguri! With your new knowledge of Italian food and wine, you are ready to eat and drink!

Buon appetito!

Source: Eataly