Wine is intrinsic to Italian culture. Italians are raised on it, and vines are grown from the head to the toe of the country, thus making its production deeply interwoven within Italian society. The ancient Greek name for Italy is 'Oenotria' or 'land of trained vines'; which provides further clarification of the importance of the vine in this country.
Geographically Italy hosts a wonderful wealth of beneficial viticultural factors such as: sunshine, slopes and extensive mountain ranges which provide variation in altitude to suit an assortment of grape types. As with other wine producing countries the quality classification system is arguably flawed. In this case rigid jurisdiction prevents designations being issued to wines if they contain unapproved varieties. Consequently some outstanding wines such as the super Tuscan Sassicaia, will only be awarded with the 'Vino da Tavola' designation.
In 1992 the quality pyramid was restructured to accommodate a new category; namely Indicazione Geografica Tipica or IGT (which is a similar notion to France's Vin de Pays). This tier lies below DOC and DOCG Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita, with the latter being given to the most esteemed wines. In the case of a DOCG, more robust stipulations are mandatory, such as restricted yields. Below IGT is Vino da Tavola (VDT), typified by more lenient regulations.
Style-wise Italy provides something for everyone; in Piemonte DOCG wines include the bold, beloved Barolos as well as the delightfully delicate Moscato d'Astis. In Tuscany the most famous DOCG wine is Chianti Classico, and in Lombardy - Franciacorta, the traditional method sparkling wine. In 2006 there were 311 DOCs and 32 DOCGs, which provides much exploration for the wine lover. The wines of Italy are as alluring as the country itself; incredible elegance and diversity can be found in every corner.