The Christmas holidays are the best time for blending wine. That’s when you find drinks tables loaded with cheap and available bottles just waiting to be played with.
It’s easy to become a mad scientist with wine. Just pour together different varietals and taste them at various quantifications. Assure your host that there’s nothing wrong with wine blending; it’s the sign of an adventurous palate.
Your friends may think you’re crazy until you inspire them to blend a few wines themselves. Then, they’ll think you’re a hero for making that cheap shiraz into something drinkable.
Wine blending at the dinner table is a fun drinking game where the object is to see what tastes best with the food. Start with the obvious choice and mix in another wine to see what happens. By blending wine, you can steer the conversation all through dinner.
The reasons for blending wine are numerous and subject to situations, but overall, we blend: To enhance aromas; To add flavors; To increase body and texture; To adjust acidity or alcohol or tannins; To moderate the sweetness of a wine; To impress members of the opposite (or same) sex.
If you are wondering how to blend wines at a home party, here are a few suggestions to get started:
Bordeaux-style: think Meritage wines. By blending some of the most widely-drunk wines on the market: cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, merlot, malbec, petite verdot or carmenere, you’ll make a Meritage at a fraction of the price.
Alsacian-style: pinot gris, pinot blanc, riesling, gewürtztraminer, and muscat are classic aromatic whites from the border of France and Germany that create the EU of wine blends.
Rhone-style: create a nice Cote du Rhone by blending some syrah, morvedre, granache or carignan. Who says winemakers should have all the fun?
Super Tuscan: All it takes is some sangiovese (Chianti) and cabernet sauvignon or merlot and you’ll have your own version of Sassicaia.
California-style: take that wimpy zinfandel and add some syrah, petite syrah or carignan to create a rustic California jug wine that will put hair on your chest.
Hermitage-style: add some aromatic white wine to a heavy red wine and lighten it up. The white will lift the fruit of the red and make it more approachable and food friendly. Tell your dinner companion your blend is more “elegant.”
Rosé: pour a little light red wine, like pinot noir, into a mild white wine, like pinot blanc or viognier. Appreciate that if you were a French winemaker, you’d be arrested for doing this.
While it’s fun to go nuts mixing up every bottle in sight, try not to piss off the person who brought a rare and precious bottle that they carried in their luggage from the continent, special for the occasion.
Or, if the bottle is over 10 years old, it may seem irreverent to blend it – unless it’s bad.
Or if the winemaker is in the room you may appear rude if caught playing with their wine.
The least you can do is wait until they’re not looking.
Otherwise, go ahead and be a mad scientist with wine. Have fun, go on a blender, because why not? No wine is an island unto itself, so blend them.
Merry Christmas and happy new year to all of my readers, family, friends and frenemies. But not Gary Bettman. He gets a lump of coal in his stocking.