Wine is a strange, wonderful world. Aisle upon aisle of bottles, esoteric grape varietals, the daunting challenge of deciding which one is the ‘right’ one to choose. No wonder so many of us ridiculously reach for the same label, time after time: anything else seems too much of a risk. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Today’s topic? ‘What makes a good red blend wine?


The Symphony of the Blend

Red blends are different from single-varietal wines, which come from one grape. These all-of-a-single-breed wines make for truly noble pours, but they also come with limitations. Because red blends combine two or more red grapes, they’re able to share the richness and depth of flavor with a single-varietal wine while overcoming its shortcomings. Envision your favorite master chef – they don’t simply chuck a bunch of ingredients into a pan and see what comes out. They’re much more likely to choose ingredients with complementary flavors. That’s how a red blend emerges, too.


So, what makes a good red blend wine?  Here are some key factors:

  • The grapes: This is the most important factor to consider in any blend. Especially the quality of the grapes. The winemakers select each grape varietal to complement each other, for instance, Cabernet Sauvignon may provide the wine with structure, but Merlot may add softness and fruitiness to the wine.
  • The Art of the Blend Ratio: The magic truly happens in the blending process. Winemakers become artists, meticulously measuring out the perfect proportions of each grape varietal to achieve a desired flavor profile. It’s a delicate dance, ensuring all the grapes sing in harmony without any one overpowering the others.
  • The area: Climate and soil composition factor into what flavors grapes develop. Varietals that are blended together usually benefit when grown within the same wine regions, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc in Bordeaux (or Napa Valley).

Beyond the Bottle: Exploring the World of Red Blends

Symphonic red blends can be deceptively versatile. Here’s what they look like around the world.

  • Casual Crowd-Pleaser: Perhaps the majority of red blends err on the side of casual crowd-pleasers, the everyday go-to bottles with approachable, fruity flavors and soft tannins. These are great bottles to pull out when you are not sure of everyone’s wine preferences or if you are attending a casual barbecue with friends.
  • Bold and Beautiful: Several red blends are full-bodied, complex wines that compete with their single-varietal cousins. They typically feature a high percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon or similarly sturdy grapes and often reveal their true depth of flavors with food and age.
  • The Unexpected Delight: Winemakers constantly experiment with unique blends of lesser-known varietals, allowing consumers to channel a love of learning and discovery about wine in new ways.


Finding Your Perfect Blend at Jessup Cellars

A great red blend is simply an enjoyable glass of wine to drink. Two of our Signature Blends, ‘Table For Four’ and ‘Juel’ are Bordeaux-styled blends that reflect the harmonious nature of several varietals grown together in Napa Valley while the different blend recipes allow the distinctions to shine through.

Wine discoveries are an exciting journey filled with rewards and applicable knowledge. They help us learn more about our own tastes and preferences and can result in picking up sensory distinctions among wines more easily. This makes us better shoppers as we can select wines more judiciously. One doesn’t need to be an artist to make wine, but it is the artist winemakers who will make the best red blends.