For Wine Collectors Wine Merchant Terminology

Wine Merchant Terminology

Wine-Searcher's database lists items offered by wine stores from almost every part of the world. Considering this volume and diversity, it is quite common to come across terms and abbreviations used to describe wine names which may not be familiar to all our users.

We have compiled a list of terms you may find as part of a wine name. In some cases, they may also appear as part of a wine label. Please visit our wine label information page for a broader insight into various labeling terms and laws.

We believe this glossary will prove to be a valuable reference point for finer details about the terms and abbreviations wine retailers use to specify wine names. Please note that the information provided here is specific to the abbreviations and terms used by our merchants to describe their wines.

Please use the bookmarks below to find the information you are looking for.

Pricing and tax-related terms, including wine auctions
Common abbreviations to indicate availability
Abbreviations often used to describe where the wine was bottled
Packaging and storing information
Common abbreviations used to indicate a wine's quality designation
Styles and types of wine
Abbreviated names of wine critics that often accompany a wine name, along with their scores
Bottle conditions as described by the label, cork and capsule quality
A list of wine bottle sizes
Bottle fill-level abbreviations
Miscellaneous wine terms

Pricing and tax-related terms, including wine auctions:

  • BP or Buyer's Premium – the charge or fee paid by the buyer to the auction house
  • DDP – 'Delivered Duty Paid'. Signifies that the price quoted includes all the charges, including shipping, and any taxes as applicable up to the destination named by the buyer.
  • DP – 'Duty Paid'
  • En Primeur – French for 'Futures'
  • Futures – simply means to buy/sell wine after it is made, but before it is bottled and/or released into the market. Some common examples of wines sold using this method include Bordeaux Classed Growths, top Burgundy and Rhone Valley wines, and port wines, among others. Please see our wine futures page for more details. Here you will find up-to-date information on Bordeaux Futures campaigns going back to 2004.
  • HT – 'Hors-Taxe'. French for 'excluding tax'. Another way of specifying this is to say 'plus applicable taxes'.
  • IB or I/B – 'In Bond'. Refers to wines stored in bonded warehouses or storage facilities, which are exempt from sales or excise taxes. These also do not incur any taxes if bought or sold while still in bond. Another important feature of 'in bond' pricing is that if someone chooses to have the wine delivered at a later date, the sales tax is payable on the original sale price of the wine and not the current market value.
  • Lot # – 'Lot Number'. An identification number allotted to a set of wines to be sold as a lot.
  • Per Unit – indicates that the wine is only sold as a unit, be it a bottle, case or OWC (original wooden case)
  • PPU – 'Price Per Unit'
  • Pre-arrival – wine sold as 'futures' or 'en primeur'
  • TC – 'Tout Compris'. French term for 'all inclusive'. May also be referred as 'TTC' or 'Tarifs Tout Compris', meaning 'all-inclusive price'.
  • VAT – 'Value Added Tax'. Similar to GST (Goods and Services Tax) and basically means tax levied on value added to the wine during different stages of production and selling.
  • Vendu à l'unité – French term meaning 'sold as a unit'. You may come across this term on our French merchants' wine lists.
  • WET – 'Wine Equilisation Tax'. A form of VAT that you may come across on wine lists from our Australian merchants.


  • IS – 'In Stock'
  • LI – 'Limited Inventory'
  • Limited Release – a marketing tool used to indicate a wine of higher quality because of lower production; it has no legal significance.
  • LS – 'Limited Stock or Low Stock'
  • OS – 'Out of Stock'.

Bottling information:

  • EB – 'Estate Bottled'
  • MC – 'Mise en Bouteille au Chateau'. Estate bottled or bottled by the wine producer within the estate. Used on quality wine labels from Bordeaux in particular.
  • Mise en bouteille à la propriété – French term meaning bottled at the property
  • Mise en Bouteille au Domaine – Estate bottled. Mostly seen on Burgundy wine labels.
  • Mis en Bouteille dans nos Caves or Mis en Bouteille dans nos ChaisBottled in our cellars.

Packaging and storing abbreviations:

  • IB or I/B – a wine stored 'in bond'. Apart from the pricing as described above, 'in bond' also theoretically signifies professional storage to maintain a wine's provenance.
  • OC – 'Original Case'
  • OHK – stands for 'Originalholzkiste', the German for OWC
  • OWC – 'Original Wooden Case'. Normally indicates wines that come in wooden cases and bear some form of identification of the estate or the producer. Quite a common practice for premium wines.

Common abbreviations used to indicate a wine's quality designation and origin:

  • 1 Cru or 1er Cru – Premier Cru
  • AOC (AOP) – Appellation d'Origin Contr?lée (the EU equivalent is Appellation d'Origin Protegée). You can find more about AOC on our French wine label page.
  • AVA – American Viticultural Area. This abbreviation may follow a region's name, as in 'Columbia Valley AVA'. See our US wine label page.
  • Bordeaux first growths – 1er GCC (Premier Grand Cru Classé), 1er CC (Premier Cru Classé), PGC (Premier Grand Cru) and 1er GCC 'A' or 'B' (classifications for wines from the Bordeaux right bank region of Saint-Emilion).
  • DO – Denominación de Origen. A Spanish term denoting quality wine from a designated area.
  • DOC – Denominazione di Origine Controllata. Below DOCG and equivalent to the French AOC.
  • DOCa – Denominación de Origen Calificada. Highest classification for Spanish wine. Rioja and Priorat only.
  • DOCG – Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita. Highest classification for quality Italian wines. For more on Italian wine and labeling laws, see our Italian wine label page.
  • GC – 'Grand Cru'. Please take a look at our Burgundy wine label page for more on Grand Crus and Premier Crus.
  • GCC – 'Grand Cru Classé'. Seen on Bordeaux classed-growth labels. See our Bordeaux wine label page.
  • IGP (VDP) – Indication Géographique Protégée, the EU term for VDP (Vin de Pays). A French country wine which comes from a broad designated area and is of lower quality than AOC wines.
  • IGT – Indicazione Geografica Tipica. Denotes wine from a specific region within Italy. Many of the finest wines in Italy may be labeled IGT to avoid DOC or DOCG regulations.
  • QbA – Qualit?tswein bestimmter Anbaugebiete. This is the second-level German classification for quality wines within a designated region.
  • QmP – Qualit?tswein mit Pr?dikat. A term applied to top German wines which literally means 'quality wine with special characteristics'. To qualify for this level, the grapes must meet minimum ripeness levels which are explained on our German wine label page. Please note that the QmP level has been changed to Pr?dikatswein since the 2006 vintage.
  • VDT – Vin de Table and also Vino da Tavola. Basic table wine.

Styles and types of wine:

  • Sparkling Wines:
    • Blanc de blancs – appears on Champagne labels. A wine made entirely from white grapes, in other words Chardonnay.
    • Blanc de noirs – a Champagne made from black grape varieties, namely Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. Please see the Champagne wine label page for additional information, including the sweetness levels.
    • Cava – the term used for Spanish sparkling wines produced by the Champagne method
    • Crémant – sparkling wines made outside the Champagne region using the traditional method
    • Frizzante – an Italian wine with a lighter sparkle than Spumante. Sometimes also referred to as 'semi-sparkling'.
    • Méthode Traditionnelle – traditional method of producing quality sparkling wines that involves a second fermentation in the bottle
    • Sekt – German term for sparkling wines
    • Spumante – Italian term meaning sparkling.
  • Dessert and Fortified wines:
    • Amontillado – a variation of Fino sherry. It is first matured as a Fino, followed by a long and slow oxidative maturation – resulting in a wine with some flavor characteristics of Fino but much darker in color due to age.
    • Botrytized – mostly refers to wines that are made using grapes affected by the fungus Botrytis cinerea. In its beneficial form, the condition is also known as 'noble rot'. The affected berries split, resulting in a loss of water which creates a higher percentage of solids, especially sugars. This results in wines high in residual sugar and concentrated flavor. An example of a wine from our database is De Bortoli Noble One Botrytis Semillon.
    • Colheita – a tawny port from a single vintage. Instead of showing the number of years (such as 10-year-old, 20-year-old and so on), the label will give the vintage.
    • Cream Sherry – an artificially sweetened sherry
    • Crusted Port – named for the crust, or deposit, which develops as the wine ages in the bottle. These wines are blends of several vintages.
    • Fino – a style of sherry that is the driest and most pale in color.
    • Ice Wine – wines produced from grapes that have been naturally frozen while still on the vine. The idea is to separate the frozen water during pressing, leaving behind a liquid with higher dissolved sugars and other solids which do not freeze. Inniskillin Riesling Niagara Peninsula Ice Wine.
    • Late Harvest – wines left on the vine longer to attain higher sugar levels. E.g. Chateau Ste. Michelle Ethos Late Harvest Riesling.
    • LBV – Late Bottled Vintage. A port wine that is aged in wooden casks for longer than a vintage port (which improves in the bottle). LBVs can be filtered or unfiltered.
    • Manzanilla – a sherry matured in the Spanish coastal town of Sanlúcar de Barrameda. A distinct characteristic of this wine is its salty tang.
    • Noble – similar to botrytized. Vinoptima Ormond Noble Late Havest Gewurztraminer.
    • Oloroso – a sherry oxidatively aged for a long time, resulting in a dark and rich wine
    • PX – stands for the grape variety Pedro Ximénez. A luscious sherry mostly produced from semi-dried grapes.
    • Ruby Port – an inexpensive style of port made by blending wines from more than one vintage and aged for a short period of time before bottling. The aim is not only to retain the rich ruby color, but also to preserve the strong flavors of the port grapes.
    • SGN – Sélection de Grains Nobles. A quality classification in Alsace which literally means 'select harvesting of berries affected by the noble rot'. Zind-Humbrecht Tokay Pinot Gris Heimbourg SGN Alsace.
    • Single Quinta Vintage Port – a house specialty and a high-quality port wine made from grapes sourced from vineyards which normally produce the fruits for vintage ports. In other words, a Single Quinta Vintage Port will be produced in a particular year considered to be very good but not exceptional, when a vintage can be declared.
      The blends for these wines are sourced from single estates (quinta) – hence the name.
    • Tawny Port – a port wine aged for a long period in wooden barrels with some oxygen contact (oxidation), resulting in a wine which attains a golden-brown color – hence the name tawny. On the label, the name of a wine is often preceded by the average age of the blend.
    • TBA – Trockenbeerenauslese. 'Dry berry selection'. These grapes are left on the vine for the longest period of time, which helps them reach a raisin-like state – resulting in wines that are extremely concentrated and sweet. J.J. Prüm Wehlener Sonnenuhr TBA 1959.
    • VDN – Vin Doux Naturel. Literally, a wine with a high level of natural (residual) sugar, achieved by fortifying the wine before the fermentation is finished.
    • Vintage Port – the best quality of port wine, made only in exceptional years. These wines age in the bottle for decades.
    • VT – Vendange Tardive. An Alsace classification meaning wines made from late-harvested grapes. E.g. Lucien Albrecht Riesling VT.

Abbreviated names of wine critics and wine publications which often accompany a wine name along with their ratings:

  • RP – Robert Parker. Here is an example from our database: 1998 Chateau Lafite Rothschild 1er Cru Classé, Pauillac (98/100 RP) . You may also be interested in Robert Parker's 100-point wines.
  • WS – Wine Spectator. Example: 2004 E. Guigal Cote Rotie La Mouline, Rhone, France (95/100 WS). Here is a list of highly-rated wines by Wine Spectator.
  • ST – Stephen Tanzer. Example: 2000 Silvio Grasso 'Ciabot Manzoni' Barolo DOCG, Piedmont, Italy (ST 91). Here is a list of Stephen Tanzer's highly-rated wines.
  • WA – Wine Advocate. Example: 2005 Petrus, Pomerol (WA 96 Points).
  • JR – Jancis Robinson. Example: 2008 Chateau Margaux 1st Cru Classe, Margaux (JR 17.5+). See highly-rated wines by Jancis Robinson.
  • JH – James Halliday. Example: 2007 Yalumba Shiraz - Viognier, Barossa, Australia (JH 92 points). See ratings from the James Halliday Australian Wine Companion.

Bottle conditions as described by the label, cork and capsule quality:

Although these descriptions are not widespread, they are often important indicators in the case of investment-grade fine and rare wines. You may come across these terms once in a while on Wine-Searcher.

  • Label Conditions:
    • STL – 'Stained Label'
    • WISL – 'Wine Stained Label'
    • WASL – 'Water Stained Label'
    • BSL – 'Bin Soiled Label'
    • GSL – 'Glue Stained Label'
    • TSL – 'Tissue Stained Label'
    • WL – 'Writing on Label'
    • WRL – 'Wrinkled Label'
    • TL – 'Torn Label'
    • TAL – 'Tattered Label'
    • LL – 'Loose Label'
    • FL – 'Faded Label'
    • SCL – 'Scuffed Label'
    • NOL – 'No Label'
  • Cork and Capsule Conditions:
    • CC – 'Corroded Capsule'
    • CRC – 'Cracked Capsule'
    • CUC – Cut Capsule
    • WC – 'Wrinkled Capsule'
    • WXC – 'Waxed Capsule'
    • NOC – 'NO Capsule'
    • NC – 'Nicked Capsule'
    • PC – 'Protruding Cork'
    • SPC – 'Slightly Protruding Cork'
    • SDC – 'Slightly Depressed Cork'
    • DC – 'Depressed Cork'
    • SOS – 'Signs of Seepage'

A list of wine bottle sizes:

Here is a compilation of the various sizes (or formats) of wine bottles, and their standard bottle (0.75 liters) equivalents from Bordeaux, Burgundy and Champagne.

Bottle name Champagne Bordeaux Burgundy Volume in liters
Split 1/4 NA NA 0.1875
Quarter NA 1/3 NA 0.250
Half/Demi 1/2 1/2 1/2 0.375
Standard 1 1 1 0.75
Magnum 2 2 2 1.5
Marie Jeanne NA 3 NA 2.25
Double Magnum 4 4 NA 3.0
Jeroboam 4 6 4 3.0/4.5
Rehoboam 6 NA 6 4.5
Imperial NA 8 NA 6.0
Methuselah 8 NA 8 6.0
Salmanazar 12 NA 12 9.0
Balthazar 16 16 16 12.0
Nebuchadnezzar 20 20 20 15.0
Melchior 24 24 24 18.0
Primat 36 NA NA 27.0
Melchizedek 40 NA NA 30.0

Miscellaneous wine terms:

  • Proprietary Blend – A generic term used to denote a wine made using more than one grape variety. More specifically, the blend should consist of grape varieties native to the region.
  • Bin – Originally a batch or collection of wine bottles, but more specifically a brand name that separates a particular wine from others produced by the same winery. Often appears on wine labels with a number such as 'Penfolds Bin 407 Cabernet Sauvignon'.
  • Blush – Widely used term in the US for a pale-pink-colored wine.
  • Claret – A traditional English term for red wines from Bordeaux.
  • Cuvée – Essentially a French term, but increasingly seen on New World wine labels also. Denotes a wine of a specific blend or batch. In many cases this will also indicate a house specialty.
  • Kosher – Wines produced according to Jewish dietary laws. Please see our kosher wine page for more information.
  • Lieu-dit – French term for a named vineyard. Used to emphasize a vineyard's status. E.g. Lieu-dit Les Poyeux Saumur Champigny AOC.
  • Meritage – A term mostly used in the US for a style of blended red wine made from the noble grape varieties of Bordeaux, namely Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot.
  • Organic – In very general terms, a wine made without using any chemicals, but the use of the word 'Organic' on wine labels is strictly regulated by the wine laws of a particular country. For more details, take a look at our organic and biodynamic wine page.
  • Reserve – Often an aged wine. In more general terms, it can also suggest a higher quality.
  • Unfiltered – A wine which has not been filtered, to preserve its primary fruit characters.
  • Veilles Vignes – French for 'old vines'.