Most wine drinkers have preferences when it comes to the popular varieties of wine grapes. Some love Cabernet Sauvignon, but won’t drink Zinfandel. Others dislike Cardonnay, but enjoy Sauvignon Blanc. But what happens if a particular wine is a blend of two or more varieties? Should you venture out on a limb and try a blend of a beloved and not so beloved variety?
Absolutely. While a budding wine enthusiast may dismiss wine blends as diluted, muddied or less desirable than pure varietals, they can, in fact, be a wonderful way to enjoy the charateristics of different varieties of grapes. Some of the most famous and greatest wines are blends. Take Bourdeaux, for instance. A red Bourdeaux is a blend of Cabernet and Merlot. At times, winemakers may also blend in wines such as Petit Verdot, Malbec, and Cabernet Franc to give it extra complexity. A white Bourdeaux is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon.
The process of blending goes beyond just putting grape varieties together. Many winemakers go through a rigorous barrel selection process to identify the best tasting wines. The top barrels go into a winery’s reserve bottlings, either reserved as a single variety or put together into a cuvée (French for vat).
Blending is an art. Blending different varieties into a single wine can add aroma, texture, and complexity. It can make a wine feel more robust, appear darker in color, or give it a greater structure. Even just adding a small amount of a different grape alters a wine significantly.
Blends can be a great way for you to simultaneously expand your knowledge and your taste buds. The next time that you are in a wine shop or a restaurant, don’t hesitate to try a blend. Winemakers around the world often create daring and innovative blends, so there are surely some that will satisfy your palate.