Why Blend Wine?

Why Blend Wine?

As we all know by now, some bottles of wine do not contain 100% of the grape named on the label – if the grape is named at all. The laws for this vary from one country – and even one state – to the next. Generally, for a California producer to call a wine “Cabernet Sauvignon” the bottle must contain 75% of the named varietal. The rest can be…whatever…and the maker doesn’t have to tell you.  So a blend is any wine that’s not made from a single specific grape variety.

Wines that consist of a blend of two or more grapes and don’t meet the percentage rules must have what is known as a “proprietary” name. One of our favorites is a very imaginative mishmash of Petite Sirah, Syrah, Zinfandel, Lagrein, and Tannat. It’s called “The Pessimist.”  Winemakers like to name their blended wines after their children, too. There are proprietary blends called Chelsea, Katherine, Alexis, Andrew Geoffrey, and others.  You get the idea.

In fact, most red wines have always consisted of a blend. A Bordeaux, for example, can contain up to five grape varietals. Chianti is rarely made from 100% Sangiovese, and the famous Spanish wines of Rioja are a traditional blend of three red grapes. 

But why blend wine in the first place? One creates complexity and gives the winemaker the ability to “design” the wine by having more control over many components and characteristics. If your Cabernet is too tannic, throw in a little Merlot. Pinot Noir too thin? A dollop of Syrah will give it a bit more fortitude. 

Blends can also consist of the same varietal from different vineyards, or different plots within a vineyard.  The grapes from one soil type may complement the flavor or color of grapes from different soil.  The traditional method of making Champagne calls for securing grapes from more than 50 different vineyards, vinifying them separately, then blending them to achieve a “house style” that’s relatively consistent from year to year. Also, Champagne as a white sparkling wine is usually a blend of three grapes:  Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Meuniere. Two of those grapes are red.

While most Direct Cellars wines do consist of the grape named on the label, some of our new discoveries might well be blended offerings.  Be assured that our tasting notes and other educational materials will tell you everything you need to know about them…and how best to share them with your friends and prospects.

Questions about our wines or the world of wine in general?  Just email me at winewhisperer@directcellars.com.  Here’s to you!

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