What Kind of Wine is A Red Blend?

Most of us are creatures of habit. When we find a good thing, we stick with it- and that often includes looking for wine that we’ve liked before.

Sometimes it’s easy- we look for a Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz or Chardonnay. Other times it’s a bit tougher, and asking for a red blend in the wine store can lead to unpredictable results.

It’s less predictable for the simple reason that Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz or Chardonnay wines are essentially made from one type of grape- while blends are intentionally made from several grapes.

Red blends have become popular for casual drinkers because modern lower-priced bottlings are usually made from several grapes to create a smooth, balanced style with few rough edges. There’s always been high-quality blends as well- just look to the Rhone Valley or Bordeaux- but there’s been an explosion of red blends on the market, and we’re the better for it, if slightly more confused...

A Cotes-Du-Rhone wine is one of the original red blends that is very popular today. Most are blended from three main grapes- Grenache Noir, Syrah and Mourvedre. Each brings it’s own character to wine which may be a bit earthier and less jammy than a typical California red blend.

In California, blends are often based on Merlot or Zinfandel, which generally seem a bit fruitier and more direct than their European counterparts. Australian winemaking has made a living for years on Shiraz or Grenache based red blends that are big, bold and fruit-forward, while Spanish and Portuguese red blends are tighter, with less body and more terroir showing through.

So asking for a red blend in your local wine shop can be a bit more involved than picking up a bottle of Prosecco.  

As usual, the best thing to do is taste more wine, and when you find a red blend that you like, buy more of it! 

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