Blended Wine!

Blended wines! Here’s why they’re so great

Blended wines are incredibly popular these days, and for good reason. They are delicious. Blending different grapes together helps maximize the expression of a wine. It can enhance the color, aromas, texture, body and finish, making it a more well-rounded and complex wine.  

What’s the difference between a varietal and a blended wine? A single varietal wine is a wine made from one grape such as a Cabernet Sauvignon or a Chardonnay. The grapes can be sourced from different vineyards, but they are all the same type of grape. In the U.S to be considered a single varietal, the wine must be 75 percent of the same grape, in Europe it must be 80 percent.  

A blended wine is exactly what the name suggests, a wine that consists of 40-50 percent or more of one type of grape with two or more varietals rounding out the rest of the wine.

Blended wines have been around for quite a long time, and are popular in old-world winemaking. Some of the most famous wines of the world are blends, such as Bordeaux, Chateauneuf Du Pape, Chianti, Super Tuscan, Amarone, Rioja, Champagne and Port.

There are two different types of blending methods. The first is same vintage blends. This is when all of the grapes are from the same vintage or year. This is typical with most of the red wines listed above. The second is non-vintage blends. This is when they mix grapes grown in different years to balance flavors, tannins and acidity. This is common in Champagne and Ports, the label will read NV and not have a year present on it.  

Blended wines can be made in a variety of different ways. The winemaker will choose whichever fashion they believe will best express the wine they are creating. One method is to blend all the different grapes together at fermentation time. Another is to ferment the wines separately, then blend them for aging. The purpose for this is to experiment with the mixture until they find the desired end-product. The idea is to highlight each grape’s strength and complement the other grapes being used in the blend.  

There are certain laws that must be followed for the old-world blends, based on tradition.  For example, a Bordeaux will always have Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec. The amounts can be varied, some Bordeauxs are Merlot dominant, others are Cabernet Sauvignon dominant. The other grapes are added to help accentuate the main varietal. Chianti must start with a minimum of 70 percent Sangiovese and can contain no more than 15 percent Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Then there is Chateauneuf Du Pape, which can contain up to 13 different varietals.

American winemakers are not held to the same laws and regulations as their old-world counterparts. Many do make blends based on old-world standards, however they will go by different names. For example, a Claret from California will be a Bordeaux-style blend and a Meritage will be similar with Carmenere added to the mix. Other new-world winemakers will go outside of the box and mix varietals differently to create a wine that they find appealing. One of my favorites is a winemaker out of California, Banshee Wines, who mixes a Bordeaux and Rhone-style blend together and then continues to add a couple more varietals to create a wonderful and complex wine.  

The overall point of blending is to create what the winemaker believes will be a better wine than if they were to use just a single varietal. They can make a wine sweeter, drier, more well-rounded or complex, by using different grapes and different methods of blending.

To find what best suits your palate, ask your local wine professional, or as always, feel free to ask me anything at

Call Vino Vin at (845) 632-6295 or drop by at 2656 East Main Street in Wappingers Falls.

Happy Drinking.

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