I love going out with groups of friends; it’s almost always guaranteed to be more fun than just being with one person. In a group, if one person is having a bad day, then you have the rest of the group to liven things up. I often look at wine the same way – a wine that is a blend of several different grape varietals generally delivers a better sip. The blend combines the best characteristics of several grape varietals and, when needed, can cover up small flaws in certain wines due to weather or vine problems.
Blends strike my fancy in the fall as the weather starts to cool off. I leave behind my summery, single-grape varietals of pinot grigio and sauvignon blanc, which are both grapes that are not usually blended with others. My fall choices tend to be a little richer and heavier-bodied, making them perfect for heartier autumn fare.
When wine makers create blends, they formulate recipes for concoctions and strive to make future blends in identical or similar ways. Grapes or wines for the blends can come from different grapes, parcels, vineyards, areas, years, soil types, barrel types or toast levels within the barrels, and even different quality levels of wines – a high quality, expensive reserve wine may be blended with a lower quality wine.
A great example of this recipe or formula is a Bordeaux medoc red wine. A common combination is blending cabernet sauvignon with merlot, cabernet franc, malbec and petite verdot. The cabernet sauvignon gives the blend backbone and structure due to its high tannin profile. The merlot lends roundness and softens up the tannins in the cabernet sauvignon. The cabernet franc adds finesse and gives a hint of a spicy, herbal note.
Go for the blends this season and you’ll see that your new fall weather friends will be true friends for life.
Grapes sometimes blended together include:
Cabernet, merlot, cabernet franc
Grenache, syrah, mourvedre
Rhone Valley, France
Carignan, grenache, mouvedre
Sangiovese, cabernet, merlot, syrah
Sauvignon blanc, semillon, muscadelle
Chenin blanc, viognier
Chardonnay, pinot noir, pinot meunier
Touring franca, tinta roriz, tinta barroca, touriga nacional, tinto cao