While many begin their wine journey with single varietals, winemaking has been built on the tradition of blends. Here’s a lesson to help you understand their appeal and why they rock!
CLASSIC FRENCH BLENDS
France set the standard for blended wines. and the famous regions of Bordeaux and Rhone are known for their versions with Bordeaux wines are a mix of red grapes, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. From the Rhone Valley, Grenache, Syrah and Mourvédre form the popular GSM blends. More French wineries are beginning to note the grape varietals on their labels, so its easier to understand what’s in the bottle, but knowing what grape varietals are traditionally used can help you understand what your wine will be like.
Spanish and Portuguese reds are often a combination of many grape varieties, most of which aren’t indicated on the bottle. A classic example is Port (from Portugal), which is made with many local grape varieties. Tempranillo is a common red grape used in wines from both countries (and is one of the native grapes used in the Port blend, but it is named differently) and is delicious on its own as well.
While many wineries start with single varietals, you’ll notice more producers turning back to this traditional style of winemaking. New World wineries are making red blends are equally popular and use many favourite red varietals like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc amongst others to create something uniquely tasty and aptly named. One of my favourites is FRESH Perspectives Satin Red a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Gamay Noir.
SHOPPING FOR BLENDS
When you’re choosing a wine, take a few moments to read the front and back labels If you see the words “red” and “white” as the main text, you can assume that the wine is a blend of different grapes. Sometimes there will be a mention on the bottle of what those grapes are, but it can also be a winery’s secret. Producers use creative names, such as Red Velvet and Ménage å Trois, as an indicator of a blend. Have fun shopping for your next bottle and make sure to tell your guests what’s inside.