Raise your glass: Red Blends
Generally speaking, red blends are the perfect harmony of varietals that gives you the best of everything.
Blends are often considered to be complex and interesting wines because of their palate friendliness. On the more expensive side of things, this 'friendliness' makes them great value-based wines.
Unlike a single varietal like a Merlot or Sauvignon Blanc, which are made from the same type of grape - even if from different regions, a blend consists of several varietals. I know that you have seen some wines labelled as a Merlot, yet have other varietal included. Would this be considered a blend? No.
Each country has very clear guidelines as to what would constitute a single varietal. For it to be called a varietal, it must have at least 75-85 per cent (depending on the country) of that single grape. Blends, on the other hand, require one primary varietal usually between 40 and 50 per cent, with two or more other varietals added. This is what makes the clear distinction.
Blends have the unique advantage of taking the 'edge' off, which adds more intense aromas, balances the acidity, mellows tannins, adds a more robust flavour or a smoother finish. This has resulted in them being very popular, because of their versatility.
Based on the composition of these blends, they can range from medium-full-bodied to bold and full-bodied. I also find that even in the labelling, the winemakers have certainly made it more approachable and user friendly.
MÈnage a Trois, is a playful blend of three young grapes - Zinfandel, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, that, according to the winemaker, come together as three strange bedfellows. Tastes of fresh ripe fruits that almost reminds me of Smuckers jam that is just delicate, possibly one of my favourite blends. Maybe it's the name that has a playful suggestion or just the tease of all kinds of flavour that hit you.
(New to the Market)
I stumbled across this beauty at an in-store tasting at Loshusan the other day, and instantly fell in love. This winemaker was clearly thinking primal when they described this red blend as uninhibited. Its kind of like an Austin Power moment- Yeah, baby! This red blend is simply superb with such smooth elegance and juicier than a juicy fruit. This blend is made from a Merlot, Syrah and Zinfandel, which all add a level of deviance that you can't help but like. Playful aromas of berries, well balanced and beautifully spiced. It's a welcome addition to the market.
Viva la France ... or in the words of the red queen from 'Alice in Wonderland', "Off with his head." Bold characteristics that demand to be seen and heard, this red blend is made from Grenache (the popular one), Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Pinot Noir. All very different, it's almost like a fruit bomb exploded in your mouth with a medium body feel.
By absolute definition, the Miriam-Webster dictionary defines this as a confusing and difficult problem. So many different nuances, aromas and flavours that simply leave you in a conundrum. A puzzling nose that has floral elements but not quite, berries, and inspirations of chocolate which leave you in a quandary. This is beautifully complex and inspires you from the first sip, right to the next, with a great long finish.
What is nice about all these red blends, although so very different, is that by composition, taste and personality, one thing that can't be denied, is that they all love summer barbecues. If you happen to be more on the chef side of life, as you marinate, grill and sip a red blend - you will know exactly how you want to make the ideal sauce to turn the heat up on things.
Give them a try as we kick-start summer. Cheers!
I am not an expert, merely a wine enthusiast sharing my thoughts and experiences. Feel free to share your own experiences at email@example.com.