What does DOP mean? and DOC? How to identify Italy quality food & wine


Last Updated on December 1, 2023 by Laura Teso

What does DOP mean? and DOC? And IGP? How to identify Italy quality food & wine? I’m going to explain everything.

Italy is the UE country with the largest number of typical food products. We have 814 products worth of the quality trademarks (291 foodstuffs and 523 wines).

For the high quality and reputation of made in Italy, the sale of false items reached a global trade volume of 60 billions of euros. Sadly, nearly 2 products out of 3 on the international market have nothing to do with real Italian products.

The most imitated products are grana padano and parmigiano reggiano. In the USA 9 cheeses out of 10 selled as grana or parmigiano are not Italian at all. They are often the so called “parmesan” produced in California or Wisconsin.

What does DOP mean?

Now I am going to explain the difference among the various trademarks.


  • DOP denominazione di origine protetta (protected designation of origin). It is a trademark attributed by the European Union to foods whose peculiar characteristics depend essentially on the geographic environment in which they are produced. This environment includes natural and human factors (climate, craftsmanship and know-how). They combine to obtain a product that could not be attained outside that specific area. Among the most famous Italian DOP products: Aceto balsamico tradizionale di Modena (vinegar), Basilico (basil) di Genova, Cozza (mussel) di Scardovari, Grana Padano, my beloved Piave cheese (I personally love the version Piave Vecchio Oro), Pomodoro (tomato) di Pachino, Mozzarella di bufala campana, Olio extra vergine di oliva del GardaProsciutto Veneto Berico-Euganeo and Prosciutto di San Daniele.
    Italian Prosciutto Veneto by Attilio Fontana
    Italian Prosciutto Veneto by Attilio Fontana
  • IGP indicazione geografica protetta (protected geographical indication). To obtain this trademark at least one stage of the production must take place in a particular area. Among the products: Arancia rossa (red orange) di Sicilia, Bresaola della Valtellina, Cantuccini Toscani, Ciliegia di Marostica, Nocciole (hazelnuts) del Piemonte, Pasta di Gragnano, Piadina romagnola, Radicchio rosso di Treviso and Asparagi di Badoere.
    Marostica cherry festival
    Marostica cherry festival
  • STG specialità tradizionale garantita (traditional specialities guaranteed). The production method of these products is related to the tradition of an area. But the production is not necessarily in that very area. The only two italian STG products are mozzarella and pizza napoletana

The labels


As for the wines, there are three levels of labels. On the label, you should find the category acronym or the full caption. All three must adhere to a specific production discipline to obtain their the requirements certification:

  • IGT indicazione geografica tipica (typical geographical indication). It includes wines whose production takes place in a specific area and whose grapes come (at least the 85%) from that very area. The requirements are less restrictive than those for the other trademarks. That doesn’t mean you can’t find good quality wines in this category. Among them: Maremma Toscana, Vigneti delle Dolomiti, Colli Trevigiani.
  • DOC denominazione di origine controllata (controlled designation of origin). The product has characteristics related to its natural environment and human factors. Among the DOC wines, you may have heard: Barbera and Dolcetto d’Asti (Piemonte), Primitivo di Manduria (Puglia), Marsala (Sicilia), Chianti (Toscana), Bardolino, Soave and Valpolicella (Veneto).
  • DOCG denominazione di origine controllata e garantita (controlled and guaranteed designation of origin). Wines of particular value, approved as DOC for at least 10 years, can gain this denomination. These wines gained reputation and commercial valorisation at a national and international level. For example: Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Colline Teramane (Abruzzo), Aglianico del Vulture Superiore (Basilicata), Colli Bolognesi Classico Pignoletto (Emilia Romagna), Frascati Superiore (Lazio), Franciacorta (Lombardia), Offida (Marche), Asti (Piemonte), Brunello di Montalcino (Toscana), Torgiano Rosso Riserva (Umbria), Amarone della Valpolicella, Colli Euganei Fiori d’Arancio(Veneto).

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Now that I ansewered the questions: “What does DOP mean”, “What does DOC mean” and how to recognize those and other labels, you have to pay attention. Pay attention to everything that is written on the package and buy the products at a trusted retailer. Mi raccomando, stay away from fake products!

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