What is that string of numbers and letters on Italian DOCG labels?

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Dear Dr. Vinny,

Do you know what the letters/numbers on the pink DOCG label just above the name of the DOCG represent? For example, printed just above the DOCG Barolo is "AAI 06360247." We were trying to figure it out. A tax number? Tracking/serial number used by Italian government overseeing DOCG status? Thanks for any clues!

—Liesl, Tahoe, Calif.

Dear Liesl,

According to the Brunello Consortium, that is a serial number, unique for each bottle, which proves that the wine inside has met the standard of approval for DOCG (the top level of the official Italian wine classification scheme). This includes the minimum grade of alcohol achieved, yield per hectare and correct vinification and aging process.

If you feel like stalking your bottle of wine, you can get a full readout of the producer, area and even chemical tests of that bottle on the Brunello Consortium's Web site. Currently, it's only found on the Italian version of the site and only traces bottles back to the 1999 vintage, but these wines will become increasingly traceable in the future.

—Dr. Vinny

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