Ever wish you owned your own winery so you could make wine just the way you like it? I sure do. But short of buying some land and starting a vineyard, something not in the cards for me right now, I’ve come up with a fun and effective way of making a wine to my specifications. After market blending! (I hear the shocked gasps of winemakers everywhere.)
We (wine catz) drink inexpensive wines on a daily basis, and many seem to be wanting in some way or another. Only rarely do we find a wine in the $5 to $12 price range that fits the bill in every way.
It’s a common problem. Rarely do professional wine makers always find one grape variety or one year that has every characteristic they’re looking for either. So often the problem is solved by blending different grape varieties, grapes from different vineyards, or marrying together wine from several years. Blending can either help hide flaws, or simply allow the various strong points of each part of the blend to enhance and complement each other. A classic example of blending being the traditional mix in a Red Bordeaux of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot.
But, interestingly enough, for many years in the United States it seemed that blends were looked down on. Single varietal wines were king. If you were looking for a nice bottle of red wine, you bought a Cabernet Sauvignon or a Zinfandel. Blends were for cheap jug wines and were given phoney regional designation names like “Burgundy” to increase their appeal.
As the years passed however, more and more winemakers started making blends or Meritages of 2, 3, or more different grape varieties in all sorts of new combinations, and doing it well. Today there are lots of choices on the shelves of high quality blends proudly and unashamedly bearing labels that denote them as “Red” and nothing more. Some of them are as expensive as their traditional well-known Bordeaux counterparts, but many, many of these blended wines are reasonably priced and are ready to drink today – approachable, easy to love, delicious wines.
Back to our daily bottle. A winemaker blends a wine for their own purposes, or for their specific taste, why shouldn’t we, or for that matter, why not you? Once you’ve tasted enough wines and have a catalog of their unique attributes in your head or in tasting notes you’ve taken at a tasting or two, you will be able to formulate some blends of your own. We did just that the other day. It was easy and fun and a great way to end up with a wine that suits your taste exactly.
In this instance we had gathered together 4 or 5 different reds and had a tasting. Some were quite good. Others had noticeable shortcomings. We then did some judicial mixing until we hit upon the right combination. In this way we were able to make a blend that suited our palette. It was great fun. Not only is it fun to “make” some good wine, but it’s a great way to hone your tasting skills.
So gather together some friends some wines and a bunch of glasses and have a wine tasting/ blending party soon.