Make us your home page
Instagram

Why you should drink wine blends, and 10 varieties to try

People love purity. They trust it; they think of it as "better" or even "the best." Proclaiming something to be 100 percent this or that is a tactic used by brands to convey quality. We are conditioned to assume as much because we have been taught from a young age to be suspicious of fillers and imitations. (If a drink contains "10 percent real fruit juice," what makes up the other 90 percent?)

But blends — say, 20 percent one grape, 80 percent another — are everywhere in the wine world. Some regions are defined by their blends — and often they are better than the bottles that boast "100 percent" of a grape variety. Some of the best wines in the world are made from blends.

Horse people know that hot-blooded thoroughbreds can be spirited, to put it kindly, or skittish, to say it another way. Purebred dogs can also be a little high-strung. Doesn't everybody who loves dogs love a good ol' friendly mutt? Wait, can you even say "mutt" anymore, or is it offensive to dogs? Just to be safe — scratch that. Let's call them dogs of mixed breeds.

It is that wonderful melange that gives those dogs their appeal. Perhaps one breed mellows out the tendencies of another. Maybe one breed injects a little energy, or loyalty, or gives added focus to a dog that might have been a little distracted if he were a purebred.

The same ideas apply to wine blending. The introduction of one grape variety to another can make a certain characteristic more pronounced, or correct a shortcoming. It all comes down to that word that gets lobbed around so often in wine circles: balance. Is everything working together? Is the wine better than the parts of it would have been on their own? If so, that's a good blend. That's a good wine, period.

I recently wrote about pricey, proprietary red Bordeaux blends from California, and mostly Napa Valley. This week, it's all about more affordable red blends. This doesn't mean you have to stop drinking your beloved 100 percenters. It just means that you don't have to be suspicious of blends. At least not wine blends. In the fruit juice realm, you're on your own.

California favorites

.2013 Hey Mambo Sultry Red ($12): With fruit from Clarksburg and Paso Robles, this wine is made of tempranillo, syrah, merlot, zinfandel, petite sirah and barbera, offering dark, jammy fruit, vanilla and nutmeg. At this price, it's worth every dollar.

2013 Kendall-Jackson Avant ($17): "California" is this bottle's origin, with grapes from five counties — half merlot, 22 percent syrah and smaller amounts of cabernet sauvignon, malbec, petite sirah, carignan and "other." I promise you, those are grapes. This wine has plum, raspberry, licorice and a hint of spice.

2013 Francis Ford Coppola Vendetta ($25): With a 66/34 split between Mendocino and Monterey counties, and a 66/34 split between cabernet sauvignon and malbec, this wine also wears a black paper bag as a label. Tricks aside, it's tasty and full of raspberry, black pepper, anise and cherry.

,2014 Tenshen ($25): This Santa Barbara County wine brings some Rhone varieties into a blend that includes syrah, grenache, mourvedre, petite sirah and merlot. Full of black cherry and blackberry, it's also spicy and floral. I would happily pay more than the asking price for it.

2012 Tom Gore Field Blend ($40): From Sonoma's Alexander Valley, this rustic blend is 35 percent petit verdot, 33 percent malbec and 21 percent merlot with small amounts of cabernet sauvignon and tempranillo. Concentrated plum, blackberry and leather reveal themselves in layers.

Other notables: 2013 Steelhead Vineyards Red, $15; 2012 Manteo, $18; 2012 Cirque du Vin, $19; 2012 Paraduxx Proprietary Red Wine, $48; and 2010 Cenyth Sonoma County Red Wine, $60.

Why you should drink wine blends, and 10 varieties to try 05/23/16 [Last modified: Monday, May 23, 2016 5:41pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Tribune News Service.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Behind the lens: To capture an exhilarating moment, it's better to be lucky AND good

    Travel

    Editor's note: Boyzell Hosey, our Assistant Managing Editor - Photography/Multimedia, shot this image while on a family vacation in Alaska. Below is his description of the shot.

  2. Looking Back: The Ybor City Streetcar gets a new life (Dec. 27, 1991)

    Attractions

    Before World War II Tampa's public transportation needs were covered by a network of Birney streetcars, with a peak of 24 million passengers in 1926. When a local streetcar enthusiast came across a 1920's model, she contacted the Tampa Trolley Society with an eye towards restoration. That streetcar would become the part …

  3. It's possible to do Tampa Bay Comic Con on a budget. Here's how.

    Events

    One of the best parts about being a geek is going to conventions. Huge halls packed with cosplayers, celebrities, comic books, collectibles and a community of like-minded weirdos. It's paradise.

    Luis Romero of Tampa has five Spider-Man suits and has made 25 different covers and inside panels out of $3 presentation boards. 
“I spent three years of research trying to find the perfect red and blue classic Spider-Man suit,” the 37-year-old said.
  4. From 'Boot' to 'Jacket' - Top 5 war movies of the '80s

    Blogs

    The media is going nuts over Dunkirk these days, and rightfully so if the reviews are on target. In my family, going to a war movie was a rite of passage passed on from father to son. …

  5. Let's turn our love around for this forgotten '80s supergroup

    Blogs

    We love '80s supergroups that flew under the radar on Lost and Found and today we have one that was so far under the radar its almost embarrassing for music lovers. So today let's show some love for Keats and their video for Turn Your Love Around.