In May 2002, the European Union passed a law that defines the new rules regulating the information provided on a wine label. Mostly, the law fine-tunes guidelines that were already in use. An interesting detail for the consumer is that with the new law the producer may add custom information to either the main label or on additional labels and / or neck notes.
The former rules stated that only officially authorized wording should be used on wine labels. Unfortunately, other missing information among the authorized definitions were phone numbers, URLs, and e-mails, that is, all information about day-to-day communication media.
The new law on the other hand, allows producers to print additional information as they see fit, as long as the subjects are "provable and true".
Following, are both mandatory and optional guidelines.
Name of the determined region
Name of the region from where the wine comes, defined by a decree by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forest Politics, such as Manduria, Lison Pramaggiore, Orvieto, Chianti etc.. The size of these fonts must be twice as big as the font size used for the bottling facility locations.
Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (Denomination of Origin Controlled and Guaranteed) / Denominazione di Origine Controllata (Den. of Orig. Cont.)
These definitions, whose font size must be bigger than the font used for the determined region and printed immediately below the name of the determined region, should be written in full, avoiding all acronyms. D.O.C.G. or D.O.C. acronyms must be used exclusively on additional labels, brochures and other collaterals.
Name or business registration of bottling facility
Must be printed with the name of the either the municipality or village and the country where the headquarters of the facility are located. If the wine is bottled in a municipality or village different than the headquarters', such information must be printed following the name of business or the registration of the bottling facility.
Main location of the bottling facility
The location, including the municipality or the village and the country must be printed in fonts half the size of the one used to print the region's name. The country should use the same size fonts and, following the facility name and municipality (i.e. Stefano Bianchi – Montalcino – Italia). If the names, and addresses of companies, wineries, farms and other enterprises include either a minimal part of geographic indications reserved for DOCG, DOC or IGT wines, or may generate confusion for the user, the type size should not exceed three millimeters (3 mm., or 0.118 inches) of height and two millimeters (2 mm., or 0.078 inches) of width. However, the fonts should never be taller or wider than 1/4 of the font used for the denomination or the name of the producer, merchant or bottling facility. If the product is deemed for export, it should carry the name of the country one more time (in the case of Italian wine the indication "Italia", or "Italy", must be repeated twice).
It must be printed in liters, centiliters or milliliters, using numbers followed by the symbol of the of the measuring unit (i.e. "l" or"cl" or"ml", without adding the usual dot at the end).
Font size must be six millimeters (6 mm., or 0.236 inches) if the nominal volume is more than 100 centiliters; Four millimeters (4 mm., or 0.157 inches) if the nominal volume is 100 centiliters or less but over 20 centiliters; three millimeters (3 mm., or 0.118 inches) if the nominal volume is 20 centiliters or less but more than 5 centiliters; and two millimeters (2 mm., or 0.078 inches) if the nominal volume is 5 centiliters or less.
Effective alcohol content
Must be expressed in percentage by volume by half point increases (i.e. 12% vol. or 12.5% vol. Please remember that Italians use commas as dots and vice versa when writing numbers, thus the same values on an Italian wine label would read 12,5% vol.). The symbol used for it must be "% vol.". Producers can choose to use either the definition "gradazione alcolometrica effettiva", "alcole effettivo" or the symbol "alc.". The numbers' font size must be five millimeters (5 mm., or 0.196 inches) minimum if the nominal volume is more than 100 centiliters; three millimeters (3 mm., or 0.118 inches) if the nominal volume is 100 centiliters or less but over 20 centiliters; and two millimeters (2 mm., or 0.078 inches) if the nominal volume is 20 centiliters or less.
The lot is determined either by the producer or by the bottling facility. The lot number identifies the number of bottles filled with the same wine at the same location and is generally preceded by the letter "L" and followed by the date on which the bottle was filled. The lot number is mandatory for all products that do not carry an expiration date expressed in day and month. Lot number must be easy to see and read, water-resistant and preceded by the letter "L" (the "L" can be avoided if the code is noted separately from the other indication).
Text or image which invites the consumer to not abandon empty containers after use. Must be clearly visible on the container itself or on the label. If using text, font size must be not smaller than one millimeter (1 mm., or 0.039 inches) on containers which hold 200 milliliters; two millimeters (2 mm., or 0.078 inches) for containers bigger than 200 milliliters and up to 500 milliliters; and three millimeters (3 mm., or 0.118 inches) if the containers are bigger than 500 milliliters. If using the approved graphic (a human figure tossing the container in a garbage can), it should not be smaller than ten millimeters (10 mm., or 0.393 inches) if the container holds 500 milliliters or less; fifteen millimeters (15 mm., or 0.59) if the container holds 1,500 milliliters pr less but more than 500 milliliters; and twenty millimeters (20 mm., or 0.787) if the container holds over 1,500 milliliters.
Indicates the year in which the grapes were harvested.
The optional information may be printed either on the same label carrying the mandatory information or on one or more additional and / or on the container itself.
Lower case letter "e"
It is the EC symbol for pre-prepared containers compliant with the Directive number 106/75 and subsequent modification and integrations; font size must be at least three millimeters (3 mm., or 0.118 inches) of height and printed in the same visual field as the nominal volume.
The brand, either registered or not, may be printed, unless it includes words or part of words that may generate confusion or mislead consumers; They must do not include the acronym D.O.C. or D.O.C.G.
Total alcohol content
It can be reported either by completing the effective alcohol content with the "+" symbol followed by the value of the potential alcohol volume and the "% vol." symbol (i.e. 10 + 2 %vol.), or adding "titolo alcolometrico totale" or "alcole totale" followed by the value and the "% vol" symbol. This number must be the same font size as the one used for the effective alcohol content.
Bottled in the production area
Bottled in ...
... followed by the name of the determined region can be printed if the bottling is made in the determined region. In cases where bottling is made by the grape grower, either one of the following mentions may be added to the label: "imbottigliato dal viticoltore", or "bottled by the vintner"; "imbottigliato all'origine", or "bottled at the origin"; "imbottigliato dalla cantina sociale", or "bottled by the cooperative winery"; "imbottigliato dai produttori riuniti", or "bottled jointly by the producers".
Businesses involved with marketing
Either name or business names of people or entities who participated in marketing the V.Q.P.R.D. including the municipality or village where they are headquartered. Font size should be no larger than half the size of the determined region. the above data must be completed by the mention of the business activity, choosing among the following definitions: "viticoltore" (viticulturist), "raccolto da ..." (harvested by ...), "distribuito da ..." (distributed by), "messo in bottiglia per ... da ..." (bottled by ... for ...), "negoziante di vino" (wine merchant), etc. The business name of the bottling facility, the broker, or one of the person who are part of the marketing chain can be associated to the definition "fattoria" (farmhouse), "tenuta" (holding company), "podere" (farm), "cascina" (farmstead), "azienda agricola" (commercial farm), "contadino" peasant, "viticoltore" (viticulturist), exclusively if the wine was made entirely from vineyards belonging to the named estate, qualified using one of the definitions listed above and crushed in the same facility without adding concentrated must to heighten the natural alcohol by volume of the wine.
It is possible to add the name of smaller topographic areas than the determined region as long as the topographic definition is expressively allowed by the production rules and the 100% of the grape used to make the V.Q.P.R.D. come from the mentioned sub-zone.
Prizes and certificates assigned by an official organization to a lot of wine coming from the same container from which the official testing was made [article 27 Legge (Law) 164/92].
Abbazia (Abbey), Castello (Castle)
These definitions and related images may be used only if the wine is made with grape harvested from vineyards belonging to the named estate and the wine was made by the same company.
It is possible to add optional information about the wine history, the estate history, the natural growing conditions or the growing technique (i.e. "Vino di collina", or "(Hill wine", "Vino di colle", or "Hill wine" if the vineyard grow on such area), the grape variety used, even if they are three or more varieties, as long as the varieties mentioned add up to at least the 85% of the the total used. Information about the aging before release (i.e. "vecchio", or "old" and "invecchiato", or "aged" may be used) as long as it is expressively allowed by the specific production rules. Information about the wine and the estate must not be printed on the same label as the one with the mandatory information, but either on a separate label or a neck note. On the other hand, short information about the nature of the wine or estate such as "Viticoltori da ..." (Grape Grower since ...), "Casa fondata nel ..." (House founded in ...), "Commercianti dal ..." (Merchant since ...), may be printed on the main label along with the mandatory information, as well as the definitions "Vino di colle" and "Vino di collina" and the about aging ("Vecchio" or "Invecchiato" one.
"Vino di qualità prodotto in una regione determinata" (Quality Wine Produced in a Determined Region), or "V.Q.P.R.D.".
May be added when allowed by the production rules, and the wine is made with 85% at least of the mentioned grape, taking into consideration possible addition of sweetening substances, within the mandated parameters. In case the grapes comes from two vineyards, the wine must be made exclusively with grapes produced in said vineyards with the one which contributes more, listed first.
Recommendation to consumers about wine consumption
Pairing with recipes; How to serve wine; how to deal with aged wine that has sediments; the use of the wine for religious purposes; and wine storage guidelines.
The specification that it contains either red, white or rosé wine. for some V.Q.P.R.D. wines such specification is mandatory. When specified pn the production rules, such colors may be completed by the addition of the shade of color such as: "giallo" (yellow), "dorato" (golden), "paglierino" (straw yellow), "ambrato" (amber), "verdolino" (greenish), "rubino" (ruby), "granato" (garnet), "cerasuolo" (cherry red), "aranciato" (orangey), "chiaretto" (light red). The shade definition can be used without reference to the base color either (i.e. "chiaretto" without "rosso" or rosato).
Traditional complementary mentions
May be added only if specified by the production rules and using one of the following definitions: "riserva" (reserve), "riserva speciale" (special reserve), "superiore" (superior), "classico" (classico), "recioto" (local name), "sciacchetrà" (local name), "est! est!! est!!!" (It's here! It's here!! It's here!!!, the original name is in Latin), "cacc'e mitte" (local name), "amarone" (local name), "vergine" (local name), "scelto" (chosen), "Auslese" (local name), "vino nobile" (noble wine), "Buttafuoco" (Fire thrower), "Sangue di Giuda" (Judah's blood), "Gutturnio" (local name). Font size must be the same as, or smaller than the determined region. The definitions "classico" and "riserva" is regulated by Art. 5 of Law number 164/92.
The definitions"secco" (dry) or "asciutto" (dry); "abboccato" (slightly sweet); "amabile" (semi-sweet); and "dolce" (sweet), can be used only if specified by the production rules.
Type of process
The definitions "passito" (wine made with partially air-dried grapes), "lacrima" (tear), "lacrima Christi" Christ's tear), "sforzato" (wine with high alcohol by volume), "sfurzat" (same as previous, local dialect definition), "cannellino" (local name), "vino santo" (holy wine), "kretzer" (local name), "vivace" (cheerful), "vino novello" (new wine), "vin noveau"(same as previous, definition is in French), "dunkel" (local name), "vendemmia tardiva" (late harvest), "lambiccato" (distilled), can be used only if specified by the related production rules. The use of the definition "novello" is regulated by Art. 5 of Law number 164/92, and by the D.M. (Ministry decree) 06/10/89 and added modifications. The denomination of origins "Denominazione di Origine Controllata" or "Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita" may be followed by the vineyard name, specific mentions, references to particular winemaking techniques and specific product qualifications. The optional mentions must be allowed by the specific production rules. Font size used in references to color, type of product, type of process and vineyard, must not be bigger than the determined region.
Usually highlights the limited production of a certain wine. It is mentioned on the label associated to the kind of container (i.e. bottle number ...).
Usually refers to organolectic substances that characterize V.Q.P.R.D. wines.
Mention of "vineyards"
Followed by the local name as long as said name is registered in the title book; the area is specifically identified in the vineyard registry; be mentioned when declaring the annual grapes at the Chamber of Commerce; the afore mentioned grapes are crushed separately.