Italy is full of abbreviations and acronyms. This particular one you find very often with food and wine. This article will explain what it means and why it is so important in Italy.
What Does DOP Mean?
Short Answer: Denominazione d’Origine Protetta ( Protected Designation of Origin)
The European Union created these designations in order to protect certain agricultural goods. In the United States, this idea might seem a bit strange. However, in Europe, this is extremely important for a few reasons. First of all, even though Europe of many countries, within those countries many identify with their region first, country second. This is definitely the case in Italy.
If you didn’t have these protections in place, then Chianti could be made in Switzerland and Mozzarella di Bufala could be produced in Germany. Or how about champagne made in Rome or Pecorino Romano made in Portugal? By establishing these protections, products tied historically to a specific area remain connected to that area of origin.
Planning a trip to Italy and want to learn more about the diverse kinds of food and how they are protected? Join one of our Food Tours!
DOCG/ DOC for Italian Wine
If you haven’t heard or seen the word DOP, you might have seen the letters DOCG or DOC on Italian wine bottles. These are forms of DOP but are specifically for the production of wine. Here are the meanings of these abbreviations
- DOC – Denominazione d’Origine Controllata (Controlled Designation of Origin)
- DOCG- Denominazione d’Origine Controllata Garantita ( Guaranteed Controlled Designation of Origin)
If you are a wine geek like me, then I urge you to read this DOC/DOCG article which goes much more into detail about the various differences between the two and how one or the other can arrive at that designation. The individual rules for each DOC vary, but for the casual or curious reader the designations ensure that producers:
- Make the wine within a certain region or area
- Use only a specified number and type of grapes
- The wine has ” rested” in the bottle or barrels for a specific amount of time before released to the public
The one caveat I would like to point out is that a DOC wine doesn’t necessarily mean that it is a better wine than a wine without the designation. These designations have nothing to do with taste itself, but simply as a way to ensure certain standards of quality and safeguard against fraud. Two of my favorite wines are DOCG and come from Tuscany:
- Brunello di Montalcino DOCG
- Chianti Classico DOCG
If you are planning a trip to Italy and especially Tuscany, check our wine tours in Tuscany!
What Foods are DOP Italy
We have discussed wine, now let’s go into more detail about food. Which foods are considered DOP? The list is quite long, but let’s discuss a few of the most famous and therefore important ones.
Olive Oil ( Olio d’oliva)– There are 42 different areas in Italy which have received the DOP label. The olives need to come from that specific region which is specified in the DOP.
Balsamic Vinegar ( Aceto Balsamico)- There are only 2, L’aceto Balsamico tradizionale di Modena & L’Aceto Balsamico tradizionale di Reggio Emilia. The grapes used must come from the area around Modena
San Marzano Tomatoes– To be truly DOP, they must not be genetically modified, be able to trace their seeds back to the original strain of San Marzano and must be picked by hand at the right color and size!
Prosciutto di Parma– While the pigs can come from a few different regions, production has to take place in the Parma region. After 12 months if it passes the rigid, quality tests, the word PARMA is heat affixed on the ham.
Mozzarella di Bufala Campana– This delicious cheese has to come from 100% Water Buffalo milk produced in the Campania region of Italy. Farmers only have 60 hours between the milking of the water buffalo and the beginning of the cheese process.