If you’re looking to become a wine expert but are still a novice, you have come to the right place. I am here to share what I know about wine with anyone who would like to learn. Wine is a serious business and cannot be learned in a day. Short of taking trips to Napa, Italy, or an influential wine region of your choice, learning all about wine will take time. I have decided to focus on one topic at a time. What better place to start than explaining the differences between red blend wines and single varietal wines? The basics but the oh-so-important.
Though there are many differences in wines and types, wine does not have to be complicated and confusing. For the purpose of this blog, we will focus on red wine. Red wine is typically rich in flavor, color, and tannins. White wine is not usually blended and will almost always be a single varietal with some exceptions. I will go ahead and start by explaining the differences between red wine blends and single red wine varietals.
To keep all definitions simple, a red wine blend is a combination of different wine types to make one wine. This is the very definition of blending. A single varietal wine is exactly what it sounds like. It is one single wine type. As result, these wines can be stronger and harsher in flavor. So to make everything even simpler with our definitions, blended wine is made from multiple grapes and wine combinations. Single varietal wines are made from one single grape. See? Very simple. Blend=many grapes/wines. Single varietal=one grape/wine. Got it? Now, we can get into more specifics.
The art of blending wine is not new and in fact has been around for hundreds of centuries. From Europe to the Americas, wine makers blend certain wines together to create unique tastes. With over 100 varieties of red wine grapes, the blending possibilities are truly endless. Blending is done to make simple flavors more complex, or scents more potent or to even stimulant every part of your mouth with flavor. Blending will even occur to subdue some flavors when a single varietal turns out to be too strong and to find the perfect balance of flavors.
Many wine makers will make single varietal barrels for only the purpose of blending. When combining anything to create new flavors, trial and error will be used to get the flavors right. Of course, in this day and age, red wine has been blended for so long that there are many proven and wonderful combinations that you have most likely consumed without even knowing they were a blend. The science has already been done for you and now you all need to do is enjoy and educate yourself further. Some popular blends already in production (and most likely found in your favorite liquor/wine store) include: Cabernet Sauvignon with Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon with Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon with Zinfandel, Sangiovese with Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir with Zinfandel, Sangiovese with Merlot, Zinfandel with Petite Syrah, and Pinot Noir with Syrah. Keep in mind that there are many, many more.
You can find any of these combinations at a local liquor store. Try to find one that does specialize in wine and you are guaranteed to find your favorite combination. If you were in the dark before about red wine blends, the next time you head into your local liquor pay more attention to the labels. If a wine is blended, the label should (please note SHOULD) have all of the wines used to make that particular bottle. You will be amazed by all of the combinations and how many different wines you have likely tried with the endless bottle blends out there.
Now single varietal wine is delicious and amazing in its own right. These wines allow you to familiarize yourself with specific wine flavors, scents, body, and tannins. This means when you’re drinking multiple blended red wines, you will begin to be able to pick out the wines that came together. And that is a very cool skill. Common single variety red wines are Merlot, Zinfandel, Syrah, Malbec, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Sauvignon. All of these wines are made from a single grape and then aged in barrels for the desired length. The flavors of these wines will be based purely on age. This results in these being somewhat stronger.
Now that we know the differences and definitions between red wine blend and single varietal wines, your homework is to go out and try as many blends as you can. And as many single varietal wines as well. Compare. Contrast. Learn the separate tastes and enjoy the combinations. You can even make your own by purchasing single varietals and combining at your next party.