Over a series of articles, we will be tackling common myths and misconceptions of wine, with the intention of helping you to get maximum enjoyment out of every glass.
Myth: Blended wines are inferior quality.
We are delighted to able to confirm that this absolutely NOT true! Variety is, after all, the spice of life.
What exactly is a blend?
A ‘blend’ is a wine made up of more than one grape variety, and it may surprise you to learn that some of the finest and most famous wines in the world are blends – Bordeaux, Champagne, Châteauneuf-du-Pape (which comprises up to 17 grape varieties!) and Rioja are just a few; the list goes on. Why blend?
To create a more complete or harmonious wine.
All grape varieties have their own distinct characteristics, and when blended together successfully, they can produce a well-rounded, harmonious wine. Take Côtes du Rhône red wine for example, it is commonly made up of 3 key varieties – Grenache which provides juicy, ripe, red fruit, and is quite low in tannin; Syrah lends darker fruit, spice and plenty of body; and the final key component is Mourvèdre which gives structure and ageing potential in the form of its bountiful tannins. A good winemaker will be able to use each variety to its best potential, work out the right balance of each, and bring these together in the final blend.
There are no strict rules in keeping red grape varieties and white grape varieties separate either, Champagne has 2 red grapes and 1 white grape in the blend (unless it’s a Blanc de Blancs), and lots of winemakers like to add a touch of aromatic Viognier to their Syrah just like they do in Côte Rotie. Is a blended wine better than a wine made from one variety?
Not at all: some grape varieties are better suited to going solo, such as Pinot Noir. Pinot Noir has quite a unique flavour profile, often with soft, red cherry fruit, and earthy, savoury characteristics. For this reason you will rarely see it in blends, it often takes centre stage as the star of its own one-man show, and when done well, it can really shine. How do you know which wines are blended and what’s in them?
It’s fairly easy with New World wines as they tend to have the grape varieties printed on the label. Cabernet/Merlot and Semillon/Sauvignon are common.
Old World wines are trickier. Most of the time, Old World wines have the appellation name on the label which means the grape variety/varieties in that wine are strictly controlled by law. That means you need some wine knowledge to know what those varieties are. You could take a course, or you could just ask. If you are particularly partial to a particular grape variety and want to discover its Old World cousins, ask your wine merchant. If you love Rioja or St Emilion then you love Rioja and St Emilion. The constituent parts don’t necessarily matter so much.
Here’s a few of our most popular, or most interesting blends: Wolftrap WhiteMassaya ColombierSecateurs Red Blend
Or for those of you interested in unusual, single-varietal wines: Nimbus CarmenereDomino de Tares Godello