AOC or A.O.C. is the abbreviation for Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée, which translates to “controlled designation of origin”. It is a French certification of wines, champagnes, liquors and certain food products as a means of organizing, allocating and protecting their quality and geography. It guarantees the place of origin (region) of each product and its method of production. (See also Appellation). 

Towards the end of the 19th century, French vineyards suffered from various pest infections and vine diseases, hailing from America. This contamination nearly destroyed the vineyards to extinction.

Subsequently, the supply of fine wine greatly diminished and thus the demand for French wine reached an all-time high. Fraud was prevalent until the French government introduced a series of laws at the start of the 20th century, aimed at eliminating it.

These AOC laws set the limit the geography from which a particular wine, champagne or food product may originate and specifies the methods by which it may be made. The regulations are now governed by the quasi-governmental bureau: Institut National des Appellations d’Origine (INAO), founded in 1935.

Every aspect of the food and wine products are taken into consideration and regulated or controlled. Use of the AOC terms on the labels of French wines and champagnes must be exercised.