10 Dec Wine Wednesday – December 10, 2014: What Are Wine Blends?
This Week In Wine 101: Wine Blends… What Are They?
When shopping for wines you may have observed that some bottles are labeled as a single varietal (i.e. Shiraz) while others are labeled as a blend of varietals (i.e. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc), why is this? How do winemakers know which grapes will blend well with other grapes? Better yet, which brands offer some of the best bargain blends to try?
Often when browsing the wine aisle for a delicious vino from different wine regions we come across wines that contain a blend of varietals. Now, before you question whether or not the wine will agree with your palate, complement your meal – or whether it is worth the price, try it! In our experience we’ve found that white and red wine blends are some of the best, most enjoyable wines. Whether you’re sharing a bottle with friends or pairing it with food, blends rarely disappoint.
Did you know the majority of wines that come from Bordeaux are red blends and both Champagne and sparkling wines are also made from a blend of grapes along with some Rosé wines? And many of us have already had the pleasure of consuming and enjoying the flavors of Rosé, Champagne and sparkling wines.
So, why do winemakers blend certain grapes together and how do they know which grapes will pair well? Well, for starters, Europeans have had centuries to perfect the art of winemaking and long ago learned which grapes blended well with others. Which resulted in an assortment of delightful characteristics and features within the wine. For example, look at grape varietals as you would individuals with different personality traits. Some individuals have aggressive, bold or outspoken personalities, while others have a more composed, easy going, friendly or sweet demeanor.
You may be wondering how this relates to the various grape varietals. Think of those aggressive, outspoken individuals as a robust Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah or Merlot. These varietals tend to have a higher concentration of tannins and sometimes their flavors can be harsh. Winemakers often blend in grapes that have a fruitier or sweeter side, and are lower in tannins to soften those harsh flavors. In this instance, think of Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, or Grenache as those sweet, loving individuals that are mixed in with Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah/Shiraz. When those types of personalities are combined the flavors and characteristics that are expressed in the wine tend to take on delightful flavors that arouse our senses and play with our palate offering good structure, balance, great complexity, and the ability to age very nicely.
Certain wine grape varietals are used to produce white, rose and red blends. Here is a list of some of those varietals:
Varietals For White Wine Blends
Chardonnay, Grechetto, Malvasia di Candia, Marsanne, Muller-Thurgau, Muscat Blanc, Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc/Pinot Bianco, Riesling, Roussane, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Trebbiano, and Viognier.
Varietals For Blush & Rosé Wine Blends
Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache/Grenacha, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, Syrah, Tempranillo and Zinfandel.
Varietals For Red Wine Blends
Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Cinsault, Grenache, Malbec, Meunier, Merlot, Mourvedre/Mataro, Petite Verdot, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, Syrah Tempranillo and Zinfandel.
Try any of these delicious, bargain priced wine blends:
Blended Wines Priced Under $10
Hans Schiller Liebfraumilch, Germany (white blend) – $7.99
2012 Herdade do Esporao Monte Velho Branco, Portugal (white blend) – $8.99
2010/12 Domaine Pierre Fil Minervois Cuvee Heledus – $9.99
Kitchen Sink White Blend, California – $9.99
Borsao Red Campo de Borja (red blend) – $9.99
Apothic White, Winemaker’s Blend, California – $9.99
Blended Wines Priced Under $15
Chateau Bois Redon Bordeaux Superieur (red blend) – $10.99
Castillo De Clavijo Rioja Crianza (red blend) – $10.99
2011 Mouton Cadet, Baron Philippe De Rothschild, Bordeaux – $11.99
2011 Chateau de Montfaucon, Cotes du Rhone, France – $12.99
Sokol Blosser Evolution, Oregon (white blend) – $12.99
2011 Argillae Orvieto, Umbria Italy (white blend) – $13.99
2012 GWC Assyrtiko Santorini, Greece (white blend) – $14.99
2010 Domaine Magellan, Syrah, Grenache, Carignan – $14.99
2011 Chateau de Gironville, Haut-Medoc, France – $14.99
Blended Wines Priced Under $20
2011 Michele Satta Costa di Giulia Bianco Toscana, (white blend) Italy – $15.99
2011 Innocent Bystander Pink Moscato, Victoria, Australia – $16.99
2012 Delaille Domaine du Salvard Cheverny Rose, Loire, France – $16.99
Cave de Lugny Cremant de Bourgogne Rose Brut, France – $17.99
2010 Langmeil winery Three Gardens, (red blend) Barossa, Australia – $18.99
2008 Cellers Baronia del Montsant Englora Anada Crianza, Montsant, Spain (red blend) – $18.99
2012 Domaine Magellan Grenache-Roussanne – $19.99
2006 Heredad Ugarte Aspaldi Reserva, Rioja DOCa, Spain (red blend) – $19.99
2010 Chateau Le Thil Pessac-Leognan, White Comte Clary – $19.99
Blended Wines Priced Under $30
2012 Chateau Guiraud ‘Le G de Chateaux Guiraud’ Blanc Sec, Bordeaux (white blend) – $22.99
2012 Chateau Talbot Caillou Blanc, Bordeaux, France – $24.99
2012 Chateau de Chantegrive Cuvee Caroline Graves, France (white blend) – $24.99
2010 Chateau Garraud Lalande de Pomerol, France (red blend) – $25.99
2009 Kaesler Avignon (red blend) Barossa Valley, Australia – $25.99
Wine Blends Priced Under $50
2010 Epoch Estate Blend, Paso Robles, (red blend) – $45.99
In the near future we hope you’re able to sample several blends. It’s not uncommon for single varietal wines to become tiresome after a while. Therefore, consider mixing things up a bit by drinking a white, rosé, or red blend. Pair them with meats, cheeses, olives, crackers or bread – better yet, prepare a meal that will highlight the flavors in the food and wine. If you’re a fan of white wines, explore white blends, sparkling wines or Champagnes. If you prefer red wines, try blends from Bordeaux! Be sure to try some of the wines listed above and if you’ve recently enjoyed a blend tell us which bottle and share your experience with THEGRAPE.com community. Happy journeys blending in!