There are three official wine categories in Portugal:

  1. DOC (Denominação de Origem Controlada) is at the top of the list with the most stringent rules; Portugal has 31 DOCs. A DOC is a region and each of these regions has its own strictly defined geographical boundaries. DOC regulations also prescribe maximum grape yields, recommended and permitted grape varieties and various other things, and all the wines have to be officially tasted, tested and approved.
  2. Vinho Regional (IG or IGP). The whole of the country is divided into 14 Regional Wine areas. Wines from these areas have for years been labelled in Portugal as Vinho Regional (VR). Now the European Union has introduced new titles for this category of wine: ‘IG’, meaning ‘Geographical Indication’ or ‘IGP’ – ‘Protected Geographical Indication. The regulations they follow are less stringent than DOC wines. However, many producers continue to produce under Vinho Regional because of looser regulations giving producers greater individuality.
  3. Vinho (Table wine) and are Portugal's simplest wines, subject to none of the rules stipulated for quality or regional wines. Some stunning wines are labelled simply as table wines. These tend to be from ambitious growers who have chosen to work outside the official rules, and have deliberately classified their wine as table wine.