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Wine Advisor Express:
What's in the bin?

Following up on yesterday's McLaren Vale Shiraz note, let's stay Down Under today with a quick look at a frequently asked question about an Australian wine-labeling custom: The bin number.

Many Australian wines, like Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet-Shiraz, Wyndham Estates Bin 555 Shiraz and Lindemans Bin 65 Chardonnay, come labeled with this unusual numbering system, prompting wine lovers to wonder whether there's some kind of hidden system to it all. Can you determine the style or nature of the wine in the bottle by learning the system?

Unfortunately, the answer is no. As it turns out, the Australian "bin" system reflects nothing more than the traditional way that bottled wine was stored in wineries before being sold. The winery's top Cabernet went into one bin; its affordable Cab into another; the Shiraz over there, and the Chardonnay down there. Each bin was assigned a number, but it was strictly an arbitrary system for keeping track of the wine, different with each winery and no two alike.

So if you love Penfolds Bin 389, you'll know to watch for each year's release. If you enjoy Wyndham's Bin 555 (a tasty and affordable Shiraz), you know what to expect when you buy a bottle. But there's no use trying to interpret the numbers, because there's no code there to crack.

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Administrivia

This is Wine Advisor Express, daily edition of The 30 Second Wine Advisor, distributed Tuesdays through Fridays. To change your E-mail address, switch from daily to the weekly (Mondays only) distribution, or for any other administrative matters, E-mail wine@wineloverspage.com. Please be sure to include the exact E-mail address that you used when you subscribed, so we can find your record.

Thursday, May 31, 2001
Copyright 2001 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.

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