What does a "bin number" mean?

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Dear Dr. Vinny,

What is the "bin number" for? I see that on some wine labels. Is it a reference to the storage in the cellar back in the winery or is it a reference to a parcel in the vineyard?

—Ludovic, Cancun, Mexico

Dear Ludovic,

Some Australian wines have bin names (à la Lindemans Bin 65 Chardonnay). Originally, bin numbers referred to a storage area in a wine cellar where wines were held before being sold. Lots of wine (in tank or bottle) were numbered for identification purposes—which is very helpful before the wine is labeled—so referring to a bin number became shorthand for the wine stored there.

These days, bin numbers don't refer to a storage location as much as they indicate a wine made in a consistent style. Like any brand name, a bin number is an attempt to give a wine buyer a way to remember a particular wine and its style.

—Dr. Vinny

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