Wine Abbreviations

Wine lingo is full of confusing abbreviations. This article will help you translate sentences like “Can you help me find a GSM without any VA or much RS from the CDP AOC at a good QPR?”

Hopefully, you won’t encounter many people using that level of esoteric jargon, but if you do, you’ll be prepared!

GSM – Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre

Australian winemakers have drawn inspiration from the Rhône Valley in France for generations and often make red blends labeled “GSM,” referring to the three most common Rhône grapes: Grenache, Syrah (aka Shiraz), and Mourvèdre. While the term “GSM” is usually found on Australian labels, it’s not exclusive and can be used anywhere in the world.

CDP – Châteauneuf-du-Pape

The southern Rhône Valley in France is home to many famous villages and appellations, but none of them are as highly regarded as Châteauneuf-du-Pape, which served as a papal residence during the middle ages – hence the name: “new castle of the Pope.” Châteauneuf-du-Pape is normally blended from many grapes but is occasionally made from a single varietal, like Grenache.

RRV – Russian River Valley

The Russian River Valley is named for a Russian settlement established in the area during the early nineteenth century. RRV vineyards are cooled daily by fog from the nearby San Pablo Bay, thereby creating a cool climate suitable for grapes like Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

ABC – Anything But Chardonnay

Chardonnay is one of the most popular wines in the world, but some people have an aversion and describe their taste as “ABC,” or “Anything But Chardonnay.”

AOC – Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée

The French term for a wine’s place of origin. It also refers to the complex rules regarding viticulture and vinification that vary from place to place.

DOC/DOCG – Denominazione di Origine Controllata (e Garantita)

DOC and DOCG both refer to official places of origin and production guidelines for Italian wines. For example, Prosecco is labeled “DOC” and Barolo is labeled “DOCG.” Both terms designate high-quality, classic-styles wines, but “DOCG” is a more prestigious ranking than “DOC.”

IGT – Indicazione Geografica Tipica

This designation is used for Italian wines that don’t fit the parameters of DOC or DOCG. IGT wines are usually made from international grapes not native to Italy or with modern techniques not traditionally found. The most famous IGT wines are the so-called “Super Tuscans.”

AVA – American Viticultural Area

The government of the United States designates areas with distinctive winegrowing characteristics as AVAs, or “American Viticultural Areas.” Examples include Napa Valley AVA, Carneros AVA, etc.

VA – Volatile Acidity

If you’ve ever tasted a wine with flavors similar to vinegar, sour beer, or kombucha, you’ve probably encountered the term “VA,” or “volatile acidity,” caused by a bacteria called “brettanomyces.” VA is harmless but unpleasant. It often results from secondary fermentation in bottle or imperfect winemaking.

QbA – Qualitätswein bestimmter Anbaugebiete

This abbreviation is found on bottles of German wine of medium quality. It translates to “quality wines produced in specified regions.” QbA wines are normally white and inexpensive but represent good value.

QPR – Quality to Price Ratio

This abbreviation is used by critics when discussing the value of a wine. A high quality to price ratio is obviously the goal when shopping for a bottle.

RS – Residual Sugar

After a wine has completed the vinification process, any sugar left over in the liquid is called “RS” or “residual sugar.” Measurements of RS can help inform you about how sweet the wine is likely to taste.