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Barcodes on Bottles

The majority of wine bottles carry a barcode symbol on their label. It is there to assist retailers manage their inventory and speed up the sale process by scanning bottles at the check-out. This same barcode can be of great value in wine cellar management.

The bottle barcodes, known as UPC or EAN barcodes represent nothing more than a sequence of numbers made up of the country of origin, the producing company and a number chosen by the winery to represent the wine. The number and the barcode symbol do not mean anything more descriptive; to make use of this barcode, there has to be a database purchased or created to look up the meaning of each barcode.

Due to the vast number of wines available and the constant introduction of new wines, there is no single, fully comprehensive barcode database. Some wine cellar software programs have a built in barcode database, but often the wine you have purchased is not yet displayed.

Generally you initiate your barcode data infomation by scanning the barcode on the first bottle and entering the wine data. All subsequent bottles will be speedily entered by scanning a label and entering the vintage, to have all data fields populated.

Entering the vintage is necessary because most wineries fail to make a distinction between vintages within each barcode.

Because there are still a large number of wines sold without a barcode and different vintages are not recognized within the barcode, bottle barcodes are inadequate for accurate stock management in the cellar. For this reason a second barcode carried on a bottle tag makes the most of the use of a barcode scanner and assures complete accuracy of your inventory.

Barcodes on Tags

Printable tags Neck Tags are designed to be printed by you. Each tag is printed with information about the wine, as well as a unique number and replication of that number in a barcode.

The philosophy is that each bottle is individually identified by this unique number and the barcode on the tag ensures speed and accuracy.

The initial use of the scanner is to scan the wine bottle barcode, speeding up data entry of new wines entering your cellar. Once the wine is entered in the database and a numbered tag applied, the bottles can be placed randomly within your cellar.

The printed number of the tags, are easily read in your cellar. Using your wine cellar software to select a wine, you find it by seeking the unique number or reading the printed tag. As you open the bottle, you put the tag in a safe place. Later you take the tags, representing opened bottles, to your computer and using the barcode scanner, quickly remove all the wines you have enjoyed. In this way your inventory is soberly maintained without intruding on your enjoyment of the wine.

In cellars where numbered tags are not used, research shows a 95% failure of inventory control, despite the initial good intentions. The inevitable problem occurs when, through the lack of a suitable tag, an opened wine is not recorded. This small oversight quickly leads to inventory breakdown and once this occurs, reversion back to the lucky dip process of wine selection, takes place and the inventory becomes obsolete.

Your Barcode Scanner

Barcode Scanners plug in to your USB port. There is no software required, you simply plug in your scanner and, with any program that can accept a keyboard entry running, you scan a barcode. The resulting number will be displayed on the screen. The scanner is simply sending a signal identical to a signal sent from keys on your keyboard.

* Adapted with permission from James Wilson

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