The European Union (EU) is the world's largest wine economy, with roughly 70% of global production and 60% of global consumption. All 27 EU member states produce wine to some extent, and each has its own language, traditions and wine classifications. Maintaining consistency across the entire economic zone requires a set of overarching, EU-wide wine quality classifications and production laws. Until relatively recently, the EU classified wine quality into two categories: 'QWPSR' (Quality Wine Produced in a Specific Region) and 'Table Wine'. These were replaced in 2011 with PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) and PGI (Protected Geographical Indication), as explained below.
The PDO and PGI logos in their English-language forms, with translations beneath:
Each EU country has its own quality categories which correspond to PDO. The most significant are:
Each EU country has its own quality categories which correspond to PGI. The most significant are:
Although the PGI production rules are not as stringent as those applied to PDO wines, there are famous examples of PGI wines commanding more respect (and higher prices) than their PDO counterparts. This is particularly prevalent in Tuscany (see Toscana IGT).
Below is a wine label from France's Rhone Valley, with annotations highlighting the information required by EU wine labeling laws. Below that is an overview of the EU wine classifications prior to 2011.
Prior to 2011, all wine produced commercially within the EU fell into one of two categories: 'QWPSR' (Quality Wine Produced in a Specified Region) and the more basic 'Table Wine' (including 'Table Wine with a Geographical Indication').
QWPSR (Quality Wine Produced in a Specified Region) covered the same wine quality levels and types as PDO now does. The difference is that PDO covers all foodstuffs and beverages, rather than just wine. As clearly stated by its long title, QWPSR covered quality wines (i.e. those which met legally defined production standards) produced in officially delimited geographical areas. Its French translation was VQPRD (Vin de Qualité Produit dans une Région Déterminée). As is now the case with PDO, each EU country had its own classification/s (e.g. AOC in France, DOC and DOCG in Italy) which corresponded to QWPSR.
Table Wine and Table Wine with a Geographical Indication were collectively replaced by PGI in 2011. The aim of this was to remove the word 'Table', along with its connotations of low quality, from the EU wine nomenclature. An additional benefit was that it solved the disparity between the European use of 'Table Wine' (basic, low-quality wine) and the American use (wine with an alcohol content below 14% ABV). Thus the phrases Vin de Table (France), Vino da Tavola (Italy), Vino de Mesa (Spain), Vinho de Mesa (Portugal) and Tafelwein (Germany and Austria) are now legally obsolete. For more information on this, see Vin de France and Vino da Tavola.
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