Learn How to Read an Italian Wine Label

The Italian wine label can be quite confusing, especially if you don't speak Italian. Sure, its a lot tougher than reading a California wine label, but it could be worse - imagine seeing this on a label - Gutsverwaltung Niederhausen Schlossbockelheimer Kupfergrube Reisling Kabinett Halbtrocken. If you have visited our other Wine 101 pages, you will have little trouble reading an Italian wine label once you know what to look for. Here are some links to helpful stuff.

There can be a lot of information on an Italian wine label or there can be very little depending on the class of wine and the producer. The producer of a Vino da Tavola is required to include only a couple of pieces of data, whereas the DOCG producer is required to include much more data.

This section helps you understand all the data items on an Italian wine label. As before, we use graphics and tables to help your understanding.


Reading an Italian Wine Label

Let's take a look at a real Italian wine label. Whenever you see a label, mouse over the different parts to view which attribute it represents. This one is pretty easy. More producers are using English on the labels of wines being exported.

As you can see, this is a Greco di Tufo, a wonderful white wine from Campania. The location is not shown on the main label, however, is included on the label on the back of the bottle.

In this case, "Greco di Tufo" tells us a lot. It is the name of the DOCG, i.e. the wine-producing area, the name of the wine and the name of the grape varietal from which the wine is made. Tufo is one of the cities in the Greco di Tufo area.

We also have the vintage, the producer, and the vineyard. There is no guarantee that this wine is a great one or even a good one. However, there are only about 38 DOCGs, so we can assume that the wine was made to certain specifications. Knowing something about the vintage of 2007 and the producer, one can make a well-informed decision when considering this wine.

Vineyard Wine Name Wine Quality Classification DOCG Vintage Year Color - Could be Bianco Producer Vintage Year - Could be Vendemmia

The following chart includes the likely data items one will see on a label. Some would say its just the Italian way to keep us confused. In today's world, it is more likely that the vintner sees the label as a marketing opportunity, so expect every label to be different.

Items on an Italian Wine Label

  Denominazione di Origine Controllata e GarantitaDenominazione di Origine Controllata Indicazione Geografica TipicaVino da Tavola
  Certification of Controlled and Guaranteed Origin Certification of Controlled OriginTypical Geographic IndicationTable Wine
Label InfoPossible Italian Word Clue on labelYES indicates likelihood of info   
Wine Name YesYesYesYes
Producer/WineryProdutorre, Azienda, Tenuta, FattoriaYesYesYesYes
Vintage YearVendemmia, AnnataYesYesYes 
Varietal DOCG determinesDOC determinesYes 
Type- Dry, Sweet, SparklingSecco, Dolce, Spumante    
VineyardVigneto, VignaYes   
Estate, FarmTenuta, Fattoria    
Location of Bottler YesYesYes 
Estate BottledImbottigliato all'Origine    
Product of ItalyProdutorre di ItaliaYesYesYesYes
Volume YesYesYesYes
Alcohol ContentAlcolYesYesYesYes
Aging ClueRiserva, Superiore   

More Label Samples

Here is another label.

From the label, we find this Brunello di Montalcino ia a DOCG and is produced and bottled at the Tenuta (Estate) Il Poggione. The proprieter is Franceschi. We also see that it is from the 1999 vintage and is a Riserva, which tells us it was aged longer than the traditional Brunello before releasing for sale.

All Brunellos are produced in Montalcino, however, Il Poggione added the location as well on the main label. So if we know 1999 was a great vintage for Brunellos, then we would be comfortable pursuing further information from the shop keeper or the sommelier. Of course, you can usually find a review of a wine like this online.

Then, if the price is right, buy it.

We will be adding more to this page including more sample labels for viewing.

Please come back!

Wine Name Classification DOCG Aged longer than traditional Brunello Vintage Year Vineyard and Producer Vineyard and Producer Location Producers Emblem/Crest

We will be adding more to this page including more sample labels for viewing.

Please come back!

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