Course 55 – Blending: Why and How
Blending is one of the most important steps in making fine wine with a distinct and unique character. Complexity is probably the number one reason that most winemakers blend their wines. Blending often will give wine a better balance or make it more attractive than its individual ingredients. It can make a standard wine that is reasonably constant in character and quality during repeated years of production. Blending can help balance the flavors, acid and tannin levels. Blending two or more good wines can make an excellent wine. What it cannot do is make a good blend by blending a bad wine with a good one.
Examples of good blends are Bordeaux, Meritage, and Claret wines. These wines are very similar and are typically a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot. Cabernet Sauvignon is a strong full bodied wine, Cabernet Franc is a softer bodied wine, and Merlot is a light bodied wine. All three varietals contain black currant flavors. In addition, Merlot contains plum flavors. Cabernet Franc brings raspberry flavor into play. The Australians have been the most adventuresome of the blenders, they brought us SemChard, a blend of Chardonnay and Semmilon grapes.
Some of the ways that winemakers blend grapes and/or wines include:
- Blend different varieties;
- Blend grapes from different vineyards;
- Blend wines from different vintages;
- Blend by mixing and matching different varietals from a variety of vineyards;
- Blend wines that have received different vinification;
- Blend wines from different casks or barrels
Where in the winemaking process does the winemaker create the blend? In some instances, old vineyards are actually interplanted with more than one varietal, so the blend occurs at picking time, without any decision making at all! One benefit of an early blend like this is that there is lots of time for the resulting wines to integrate completely.
Blending does not occur at fermentation time. A good time to blend is around the first of the new year following harvest, usually just prior to putting the wine into barrels or shortly after putting wine into barrel. This allows the wines to “make friends” with each other prior to the aging process. You can blend any time between fermentation and bottling, and each winemaker has his or her own rationale for when to make the blend.
Come join us for Wine Down Wednesday
on February 27th
at Oak City Grille
in Royal Oak from 6pm-8pm and taste some of these unique and interesting blends. For the more adventurous we will be holding a blending seminar where you can create your own one of a kind wine. Clickhere
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