Hot Trend Or New Staple
They’re friendly, they’re affordable (for the most part) and they’re easy to drink —three very good reasons domestic red blends are some of the most sought-after wines in the market today. Red-blends from California and Washington are a seemingly unstoppable trend. Their rich, mellow, approachable style are winning over wine lovers nationwide.
What Is A Red Blend?
The majority of the wines you drink are blends. Each grape variety that’s added to a wine blend contributes its own unique personality trait (fruitiness, spiciness, tannins, acidity, color etc.), which combines to create a perfectly well-rounded, rich and smooth tasting wine. See diagram below
Originating from Bordeaux, France, the world’s most popular wine blend, uses Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot as its base grapes, then might blend in Cabernet Franc, Malbec or Petit Verdot. There are many variations of this blend, depending on where in Bordeaux it’s grown. In Tuscany, Sangiovese is blended with Cabernet and Merlot to create a ‘Super Tuscan’ blend. Côtes du Rhône Blends (originating in the south of France), use Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre as its base grapes, along with an assemblage of other regional grapes (Cinsault, Carignan, Grenache Blanc, etc.).
Another factor of the rising popularity of the American red blend category, is due to the so- called style that is now commonly associated with red blends. Based on grapes like Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Shiraz, these red blends are typically full- bodied, round, rich, and juicy, providing full flavor and drinkability at a low cost. This is the flavor profile that most self-proclaimed red blend lovers have come to expect.
Why Should I Buy A Red Blend?
These red blends, bearing easy-to-pronounce, familiar-sounding names, with edgy, unconventional packaging, remove that intimidation factor. Learning the names of a whole bunch of different grapes, or learning the towns, appellations and wine regions that make the best Pinot Noir versus the best Cabernet—that can be a lot of work for people who are just casual wine drinkers. If they can find wines that please the palate without that kind of intellectual baggage, that’s another part of the appeal. It also gives the consumer a chance to experience many different grape types in one bottle. Or, the opportunity to just open a lovely red blend to go with their Tuesday night pizza.
Many agree that these blends are ‘beginner or gateway’ wines, due to their lusher, fruit-driven style. A kind of launching pad into the world of wine, where one will then continue to discover different styles of wines from around the world and continue to evolve their palate. The wine world is extraordinarily diverse and seemingly endless in its array of new wine regions and grapes to uncover. No one should EVER-EVER get too comfortable or lazy with their selections. Find a local wine merchant you like and trust and let them guide you to the next level of wine nirvana. Let the games begin!
~ Lisa Schock
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