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Wine Term: Appellation

Variations: Viticultural Area, Wine Growing Region, Region

Alternate Usages: AVA, AOC, DO, DOC, QbA, DVA

What it really means: Where is the wine from?

You never want to say, “What city is the wine from?” – that just sounds uninformed.  It is best to ask, “What appellation is the wine from?”

As for the reply you get, that will require you to already know, or follow up with the person you’re speaking with, something along the lines of, “I’m not familiar with ‘X’ appellation, where is that located?”

How to effectively use it: Replace any word like location, place, city, county, area, with ‘appellation’

Growing regions are delineated by appellations.  More specifically recognized areas within an appellation are sub-appellations.  Example: Napa Valley is an appellation, Rutherford is a sub-appellation of Napa Valley.  Sonoma is an appellation, Dry Creek is a sub-appellation.  Bordeaux is an appellation, St. Emilion is a sub-appellation.  For the record, America or France is not an appellation.

A brief list of shorthands for appellations based on country:

  • American appellations are called AVAs for short.
  • Canada has the DVAs.
  • French and Swiss are called AOCs for short.
  • Spain’s and Argentina’s are called DOs.
  • Italy is the DOCs.
  • Germany’s are called QbAs for short.

Bad idea: “Yo, where is this wine from!?”

Better approach: “What’s the region on this wine?”

Best approach: “I love this [INSERT COUNTRY OR STATE] wine, what [INSERT SHORTHAND HERE] is this from?”

You might not get extra pours for inquiring on the appellation, but you’ll sure get their attention as you’re speaking their language, might even get a cool travel story from the inquiry too.



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