Red Wine Blends

Beer and Wine, Christmas, Drinks, Holidays, How-To, Wine 101
on December 1, 2008

Q. What’s the deal with all the red wine blends cropping up all over the place? I’m used to buying wines like Merlot and Shiraz.

A. In Europe, blending together different grape varieties has been common for centuries. These wines are often named for the places they come from, such as Chianti, Italy, or Rioja, Spain. But in the United States and other New World wine regions, it’s more typical for a wine to be dominated by just one grape variety and to be sold based on the name of that grape—say, Malbec. Lately, however, more and more New World wineries are stirring things up with blends. Some stick closely to the Old World script, melding only varieties that might be found together in famous areas. Examples include Meritage, a Bordeaux-style blend, and GSM (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre), varieties hailing from France’s Rhône valley. Other blends signal a renaissance in wine mixology, blazing brand new taste trails with never-before-tried combos.

—By Charles Smothermon