Guide to Blending
Blending has become a highly respected part of the process of winemaking. Many winemakers in fact view blending as a highly evolved art form. The basic idea of blending is to mix different wines in order to create a final wine that possesses a quality that is superior to that of each of the different components singularly.
The most common type of blending involves blending at least two different grape varieties of wine. Blending has become some a popular concept that many winemakers specifically plant their vineyards for the purpose of blending by growing a variety of different grapes in order to create a blended field.
Another way of achieving blending is to combine at least two different varieties of grapes that have been harvested separately but then ferment them together. This process commonly involves at least one red grape and one white grape.
Still yet, you might choose to create a blend which contains the same grape; however, different fermentation containers are used. Because the containers are different they will produce a taste that is somewhat different even though the grapes are essentially the same. You might even choose to go so far as to create a blend containing wine from a batch that has been barrel fermented and another that has been fermented in a stainless steel container.
Another way to blend wines is to blend wines that are from different vintages. If you have been making your own wine for some time, there is a good chance that you probably have a few bottles of wine in your cellar that were produced in different years.
It should be pointed out that there are some wines that do not lend themselves particularly well to blending. Chardonnays are known to not be particularly improved by blending. Red Zinfandel and Pinot Noir also rarely see many improvements from blending. There are also some wines which are too delicate for blending such as Gewürztraminer.
When properly handled, blending can help to balance the flavors as well as the levels of tannins and acids. It should be pointed out that blending can help to improve the quality of wines that already at least somewhat good on their own.
Blending one good wine with a bad wine; however, will not improve the bad wine enough to create a single good blended wine. Typically, rather than the bad wine being improved, the good wine will take on the lesser qualities of the bad wine. If you have a bad wine that you wish to improve, consider mixing; a process that can take away an off flavor.
Generally, if you are new to blending it is best to start with just two wines. Many home based winemakers discover the benefits of blending when they taste a wine in order to see how it turned out and discover that it could be slightly better. Blending gives you the ability to select the best characteristics of multiple wines and then blend them together to achieve a far better flavor. While the process may seem complicated, even the most novice home winemakers can create a good blend at home.
The basic process of blending involves testing, comparing the flavors and then finding the ratio you prefer for the final blend.
Remember that it is best to blend on an incremental basis, starting with small amounts and then making minor adjustments until you find a preferred blend. As you may wish to blend in the future, it is a good idea to take notes as you go along; noting how many millimeters of each wine you have used for subsequent tests.
It is also important to note that in some cases, certain blends may need some time in order for the individual components to marry and achieve a good flavor. This is commonly the case with young red wines.
Tasting a blend of young reds right away can give you an inaccurate idea of what the final result will taste like. Whites; however, can usually be blended and tasted right away.
Most winemakers find that blending produces better results when it occurs as soon after fermentation as possible. Blending right after fermentation will protect the final product from oxidation and also gives the wines the opportunity to age together into a single wine rather than separately.