Italian Wine Label Language

This article on Italian wine label language is a complementary part of my Understanding European Wine Labels article that will teach you to understand the meanings of foreign terms on European wine labels.

Italy Wine Regions
Italy Wine Regions

Italian Wine Label Language Definitions

ABBOCCATO: Slightly sweet.

AMABILE: Sweeter than abboccato.

AMARO: Bitter or very dry.

ANNATA: year; often precedes or follows the vintage date. At least 85 percent of the wine must be from the vintage indicated.

ASCIUTTO: Bone dry.

AUSLESE: used in the Alto Adige for wines from selected grapes.


BIANCO: White.


CASCINA: North Italian term for a farm or estate.

CASA VINICOLA: A commercial winery.

CERASUOLO: Cherry red, used for vividly colored rosés.

CHIARETTO: Wines between very light red and genuine rosé.

CLASSICO: The best or most famous part of a DOC zone.

CONSORZIO: A group of producers who control and promote wine, insisting on higher standards than DOC regulations enforce.

DENOMINAZIONE DI ORIGINE CONTROLLATA OR DOC: There are more than 250 DOCs, but some are multiple-varietal appellations covering as many as 12 different wines, resulting in more than 600 DOC names. This is similar, and just as worthless as, the French AOC system, as both merely guarantee mediocrity. The producer’s name is still the best assurance of quality.

DENOMINAZIONE DI ORIGINE CONTROLLATA GARANTITA OR DOCG: In Theory, the highest-quality official denomination, in practice encompasses a lot of very ordinary wine. Again, the producer’s name is the best assurance of quality.

DOLCE: Very sweet.


FERMENTAZIONE NATURALE: Method of producing sparkling wine by natural refermentation in a tank or bottle.

FIORE: flower; often part of a name, indicating quality, implying that the first grape pressing has been used.

FRIZZANTE: Semi-sparkling, the equivalent of pétillant.

FRIZZANTINO: Very lightly sparkling.


INDICAZIONE GEOGRAFICA TIPICA OR IGT: The Italian equivalent of a French vin de pays.

LIQUOROSO: fortified and sweet, may be dry wine that is high in alcohol.

LOCALITÀ , RONCO, OR VIGNETO: Indicates a single-vineyard wine.


METODO CLASSICO OR METODO TRADIZIONALE: The Italian for traditional method.

PASSITO: Strong, often sweet wine made from semi-dried grapes.

PASTOSO: Medium-sweet.


RAMATO: Copper-colored wine made from Pinot Grigio grapes briefly macerated on their skins.

RECIOTO: Strong, sweet wine made from semi-dried grapes.

RIPASSO: Wine refermented on the lees of a recioto wine.

RISERVA OR RISERVA SPECIALE DOC or DOCG: wines matured for a statutory number of years.




SEMI-SECCO: Medium-sweet.

SPUMANTE: Fully sparkling.

STRAVECCHIO: Very old wines aged according to DOC or DOCG rules.

SUPERIORE: refers to a longer minimum aging period before the wine can be sold.

TALENTO: A registered trademark signifying a sparkling wine made by the traditional method.

TENUTA: Estate.

UVAGGIO: Wine blended from various grape varieties.


VENDEMMIA: harvest; often precedes or follows the vintage date. At least 85 percent of the wine must be from the vintage indicated.


VIN SANTO OR VINO SANTO: Traditionally sweet, occasionally dry, white wine made from passito grapes stored in sealed casks, not topped up for several years.

VINO: Wine.

VINO NOVELLO: Italian equivalent of Beaujolais Nouveau.

VINO DA PASTO: Ordinary wine.

VINO DA TAVOLA: table wine; Italy’s most basic category, including most of the country’s plonk, it may also include some of its greatest wines, many are developing their own appellations.

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Comments 4 comments

angelo di fluno profile image

angelo di fluno 4 years ago from Italy dear to use the google translator can be useful for many things, but let translate the labels of Italian wines by an Italian native speakers, and above all who knows the wine!!

Haunty profile image

Haunty 4 years ago from Hungary Author

Hi Angelo! I'm not sure why you would suggest that I used Google Translate to translate the above phrases. I can assure you I did not. As an Italian yourself, you must be aware that all my definitions are correct. :)

angelo di fluno profile image

angelo di fluno 4 years ago from Italy

I'm sorry to contradict you, but some definitions are wrong; the literary translation may be correct, but

"un vino pastoso" This is a positive term that refers to a wine so thick and viscous that it must be almost chew before swallowing. A mellow wine is unusually thick, rich and full-bodied, due to the alcohol content and the content of tannin.

"Un vino asciutto" It is said of a red wine unbalanced because it is totally lacking in softness, which only gives a feeling of strong tannins and acidity.

When we talk about wine is not sufficient to translate the word literally, the wine and its label tags have a culture and a tradition that require more than a simple translation

Haunty profile image

Haunty 4 years ago from Hungary Author

Hi Angelo! No need to be sorry. I'm glad you corrected me there. Thank you.

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