academia barilla  December 2006

All about DOP, DOCG, and Extra-virgin

Hi Italian Food lovers, ever wonder what DOP, DOCG and Extra virgin [...]

Hi Italian Food lovers, ever wonder what DOP, DOCG and Extra virgin really mean? Surely you’ve seen a lot of these acronyms, or special titles, on the labels of some of your favorite gourmet Italian food products.

Of course, there is a technical meaning behind each acronym or series of letters, and more importantly, there is a government law regulating how, when and why these letters and labels *must* be used.

Let’s examine.

Italian gourmet food products are special. The Italian national government recognizes this, and the long history of traditional Italian foods in our collective bloodlines, so, they’ve taken some steps to ensure that all traditional products are held to a strict standard for quality, excellence and originality.

This means that only real Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese is labeled and sold as such, and that no “imposter” cheeses can be labeled Parmigiano without the ire of the Italian and European governments. This form of branding actually helps promote the product worldwide and ensures that each wheel of Parmigiano is as good and wholesome as the rest.

So, what do all of the acronyms mean?

Let’s break down each, and over the next few blog posts, I’ll explain more about each label, and its series of protections for products.

D.O.P – Denominazione di Origine Protetta

Literally translated “Protected Designation of Origin”, this label applies to various cheeses, meats, breads and pastas from throughout the various regions of Italy.

Examples of such products are Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, Prosciutto di Parma, regional Extra-Virgin Olive Oils and the famous Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena.

Since Academia Barilla is headquartered in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, home to towns like Parma and Modena where these products come from, the D.O.P. protection is quite significant.

D.O.C. and D.O.C.G

Denominazione di Origine Controllata (e Garantita). Protections for Wines, these labels mean that the wine is from a “Controlled Designation of Origin”. In the case of D.O.C.G., wines are even officially guaranteed by the Italian government.

These two labels are the highest quality certifications given to Italian wines. Each designation means that the wine is grown in select quantities that the government mandates, and is produced under traditional or government-specified standards. D.O.C.G. is the ultimate Italian wine standard, being given currently to little over 30 wines from Italy.

Each D.O.C.G. wine is produced in very small quantities and is given an official numbered government seal for each bottle.

Extra Virgin

While this title is reserved for olive oils, it is not exclusive to Italy (though, some Italian olive oils can also be given the D.O.P. designation, which, of course, *is* exclusive to Italy).

Extra Virgin is a grade of olive oil that generally comes from the first pressing of olives and contains no more than 0.8% acidity – a key metric for determining quality and usability of olive oil.

More about DOP soon!

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