Classification Notes on European Wines

Find out more about the classification on European wines . . . .

I was recently asked to explain how the various wines of Europe have been classified, in each region the initials D.O. have a different meaning –

D.O. Jerez-Xérès-Sherry

D.O. Jerez-Xérès-Sherry

(as in D.O. Jerez-Xeres and D.O. Montilla-Moriles).

In Spain, D.O. stands for “Denominación de Origen” (in Spanish) or in English it could be interpreted as being “Designation of Origin”.  To be precise “D.O. Jerez-Xérès-Sherry” became the official Denominación de Origen for Sherry in 1933.  The three words actually reflect three languages, as in Spain “Jerez” (Vinos de Jerez), “Xérès” (in France) and “Sherry” as in English.  Although D.O. or Denominación de Origen is a Spanish regulatory classification system primarily for wines – it can also be appropriated to cheese or food that has been produced using specific local traditions.  Whilst Montilla is similar in style to Sherry – it has its own Denominación de Origen – being D.O. Montilla-Moriles.  There is also a classification DOCa being Denominación de Origen Calificada as in Rioja.  Consequently, any Spanish product bearing the D.O. seal has followed specific rules in their production that are defined or set out by a regulatory office called the Consejo Regulador.

As for other European countries:

In France A.C., A.O.C. and P.D.O. are abbreviations for Appellation Contrôlée, Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée and Appellation d’Origine Protégée respectively, as appropriated to a system of control for wines in France.   Specific rules, as laid down by the Institut National de Appellations d’Origine vary according to region.  The rules govern vines – the method of cultivation and pruning; the exact location of the vineyard; the permitted yield at the harvest, the minimum alcoholic strength of the wines and exactly how the wines are produced.

In Italy, D.O.C. stands for Denominazione di Origine Controllata – an Italian law established in 1963 affecting Italian-bottled wines only.  There is also a superior classification being D.O.C.G. standing for Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Guarantita for the finest Italian wines sold in specified bottles, with a government warranty.

Denominação de Origem Controlada

Denominação de Origem Controlada



In Portugal, there is DOC and DOP which are “Denominação de Origem Controlada” meaning Controlled Denomination of Origin and “Denominação de Origem Protegida” meaning Protected Denomination of Origin, respectively.  DOC regulations prescribe maximum grape yields, recommended or permitted grape varieties and various other points regionally.

In Greece, there are two wine categories – PDO and PGI meaning “Protected Designation of Origin” and “Protected Geographical Indication”, respectively.

Although there are three PGI sub categories which cover Regional, District and Area wines – there are nearly 30 PDO designated locations of historical vineyards, running through the alphabet from PDO Amynteo (a zone in the Florina district) to PDO Zitsa (a plateau in the west central part of Epirus) – both established in 1972.  Whereas the Reserve red wines are aged for 3 years, of which there is a minimum of 1 year in cask and for the Grande Reserve a minimum of both 18 months in cask and bottle, the Reserve whites are aged for 1 year and the Grande Reserve are aged for 2 years of which there is a minimum of 1 year in cask & 6 months in bottle.

Find out more about our trip to Andalusia, southwest Spain 2015
Find out more about our trip to Andalusia, southwest Spain 2016
Why not join us on our Join our next wine tasting trip –

Nicholas Collis

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