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    Which Is Better: DOC or DOCG Wine?

    Accounting for nearly 33% of Italian wines, DOC and DOCG are Italian wine classification terms. Searching for where to find red wine online from Italy? Whether scouring wine clubs or reviews,  check for DOC or DOCG on the labels when seeking wine gifts or a bottle for a special occasion. 

    Read on to find out why DOCG wines have a premium classification unlike DOC by exploring their differences and similarities in detail. 

    How The DOC System Works

    France’s highest quality classification of AOC focuses on the terroir to differentiate the quality of wines while the DOC system of Italy is a bit more sophisticated. It was first established in 1963 to create a benchmark of quality for Italian wines.

    Take a look at what the Italian classification of DOC describes.

    Production Area

    Akin to almost-all classifications for wines around the world, this refers to the controlled geographical area where the wine is recognized as DOC wine. 

    Methods Of Production

    The rules of DOC focus on the traditional production of wines associated with specific regions and their vinifying culture to judge the quality of the wine.

    Quality Guarantee

    While the above two pointers are common to wine classifications of other countries, the guarantee of quality or ‘Garantita’ makes it unique. 

    DOC Vs DOCG 

    Two of the highest classifications of wines from Italy are given below so as to help you understand how the classification works.

    What Is DOC

    Called Vino a Denominazione di Origine Controllata in Italian, when translated to English this means ‘Controlled Denomination of Origin’. DOC wines boast characteristics like dryness and high acidity. It creates rules focused on the grape variety, harvest yield, aging duration with specifications on barrel usage, and minimum ABV. 

    A few examples of DOC wines include:

    • Bardolino
    • Soave
    • Orvieto

    What Is DOCG?

    Popular in Italy as Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita, DOCG stands for ‘Denomination of Controlled and Guaranteed Origin’. It was coined in 1980 to create a superlative standard than DOC wines. The same is why rules and regulations that classify wines as DOCG are much more sophisticated than DOC. 

    In addition to the norms of DOC, DOCG classifies wines with lower grape yields, precise adherence to geographic boundaries, and strict analyses. 

    Here are a few DOCG wines: 

    • Piedmont Barolo
    • Piedmont Barbaresco 
    • Tuscan Brunello di Montalcino
    • Tuscan Vino Nobile di Montepulciano
    • Tuscan Chianti

    What Is The Difference? 

    The sole difference between DOC and DOCG has to do with quality. Here’s an outline of how you can spot the differences in quality between the two.


    Yearly testing is mandatory for DOCG wines, unlike DOC. The former checks the production area, color of the wine, allowed varieties of grapes and minimum-to-maximum proportions, wine style, minimum-to-maximum ABV, techniques of winemaking, winemaking culture, and aging. 

    Government Seal

    While DOC wines are sealed on the cap with the abbreviation, DOCG wines come with government-regulated seals such as light pink for sparkling wines, light green for the best white wines, and magenta for reds on top of alphanumeric codes. 


    The pricing of DOCG is higher than DOC owing to its intense flavor and rarity. Moreover, DOCG wines demand more attention during winemaking and occupy the prime wine-growing regions of Italy. That’s why there are merely 74 DOCG wines, unlike 330 DOC wines.

    Can You Actually Tell The Difference Based On the Label? 

    Yes, you can tell the difference between DOC and DOCG wines available from wine clubs by studying the labels. This is because the latter bears the guaranteed certification of quality unlike the former. DOCG is a top-tier classification where the quality is strictly imposed. 

    However, it doesn’t mean that all the high-quality wines from Italy show up with a DOCG label. In fact, the DOCG classification is so restrictive that vintners might declassify their wines as witnessed with popular wines termed Super Tuscans. 

    Bottom Line 

    The clear winner between DOC and DOCG is DOCG. This is because DOCG is more of a rarity given these wines come with a valid guarantee of quality assurance while DOC wines merely need to follow the regulations and geographical requirements.