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What is an Appellation?

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An appellation is a legally protected category of wine or food that is defined by a nation or region. In many cases, an appellation may also be recognized in trade agreements giving it international recognition.


An appellation is commonly based on a geographical area such as an agricultural region. Additional restrictions may include factors such as crop type, agricultural methods, maximum yields, processing techniques and quality classifications.


Appellations date back to ancient wine making practices whereby wines were often named for their region of origin. For example, wine of Samaria, Carmel and Jezreel are mentioned in the Bible.

Appellations vs Commodities

Appellations are one of the primary reasons that wine has largely escaped becoming a commodity product. Most food and beverages are viewed as a commodity whereby consumers buy on price and see little difference from one product to the next.

Appellations & Quality

Wine is sold at a wide range of prices based on evaluations of its quality. Recognition of appellations, brands, vineyards and vintages by customers gives producers incentives to produce a quality product. This differs from commodity foods and beverages that lack incentives to raise quality beyond the minimum required to get the prevailing market price for their product.


Pradikatswein is an appellation for German wine that can be roughly translated to "superior quality wine." The appellation may be used by wine from 13 wine-growing regions. The appellation has various requirements such as type of grape and the restriction that no sugar can be added to the wine. The region of the wine must also be accurately reflected on the label.
Overview: Appellation
Intellectual Property
A legally protected label for wine or food.
Related Concepts
Food Sovereignty
Slow Food
Intellectual Property
Next: Artisanal Food


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