The French system of categorizing wines has long been the most comprehensive in the world and has served as a model for wine laws in countries across the globe. With French winemakers making the transition to the new European Union system of wine classification, French wines now fall into one of three quality classifications*:
Appellation d'Origine Protégée (AOP)
These are the highest-quality wines. AOP refers to the wine's place of origin, as well as to the fact that wines from these specified regions are under strict federal controls. Things controlled include grape varieties, vine size and density, maximum yield, minimum alcohol level, and vinification methods. AOP is the European Union term for what the French traditionally called Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC).
Indication Geographique Protegée (IGP)
This is the European Union equivalent of what was called Vin de Pays (literally, "country wine") under the French system of wine regulation. An IGP wine is one step higher in quality than a basic table wine (Vin de France, formerly Vin de Table). Wines in this quality classification are controlled for the grapes' place of origin and for the amount of wine produced per hectare. An IGP region can be large or small.
Vin de France
This is the European Union equivalent of what was called Vin de Table ("table wine") under the French quality classification system. This is the least regulated of the three quality categories; Vin de France wines can vary greatly in quality, and price is often not an indication of quality. Vin de France wines can be blended from grapes grown anywhere in France; their labels do not give a specific region of origin.
* Under the former French classification system, there was a little-used quality level called Vin Délimité de Qualité Supérieure (VDQS) right below the top level. The EU system has no category corresponding to VDQS.