Italy is the world's largest wine producer and has some of the oldest producing regions. Its contribution is around 45-50 million hl per year and represents about a quarter of global production. Italian wine is exported all over the world, as well as being popular among Italians. Italians rank fifth in the world list of wine consumption by volume with 42 liters of consumption per capita. The grapes are grown in every region of the country and there are more than one million cultivated vineyards.
In 2018 Italy had 526 wines marked with quality labels of Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) and Protected Geographical Indication (PGI). Italy is the country with the highest number of PDO and PGI wines in the world with 526 wines (408 PDO wines and 118 IGP wines).
The categories are classified as follows:
PDO (Protected Designation of Origin): this category includes two sub-categories: DOC wines (Denomination of Controlled Origin) and DOCG (Controlled and Guaranteed Denomination of Origin). The DOC wines must be IGP wines for at least 5 years. Generally they come from smaller regions within a given PGI territory, particularly suited for their climatic and geological characteristics, the quality and originality of local wine-making traditions. They must also follow stricter production standards than IGP wines. A DOC wine can be promoted to DOCG if it has been a DOC for at least 10 years. In addition to meeting the requirements for DOC wines, DOCG wines must pass more rigorous analyzes before marketing, including a tasting by a specially appointed committee. Currently in Italy there are 526 DOP.
PGI (Protected Geographical Indication also traditionally referred to as IGT - Typical Geographical Indication): wines produced in a specific territory in Italy and following a series of specific and precise regulations on authorized varieties, viticultural practices and wine-making, organoleptic and chemical-physical characteristics, labeling instructions, etc.
GENERIC WINES (Varietal wines): generic wines produced mainly (at least 85%) from a type of authorized "international" grape variety (Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah) or entirely from two or more of them, the vine or the varieties and the harvest can be indicated on the label. There is a ban on indicating the geographical origin of these wines that can be produced anywhere in the EU.
WINES (Wines - informally called "generic wines"): wines can be produced in any part of the EU territory, the label does not include any indication of the geographical origin of the vines used or of the harvest. The label shows only the color of the wine.
The twenty Italian wine regions correspond to the twenty administrative regions of the country. Understanding the differences between these regions is very useful for understanding the different types of Italian wine. Wine in Italy tends to reflect local cuisine. Regional cuisine also influences wine. DOCG wines are found in 15 different regions, but most of them are concentrated in Piedmont, Lombardy, Veneto and Tuscany.