Types of Wines: Varietal Wine OR Blended Wine
Wine is usually made from one or more varieties of grapes such as Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Gamay and Merlot. When one of these varieties is used as the predominant grape in the wine then it is called a varietal wine or wine varietals and named after that predominant grape.
Wine varietals are associated more with the New World Wines. In the US a varietal wine must be at least 75% of that variety to be named after it. European Union is the percentage is 85% for a varietal wine.
The 15% to 25%: The rest of the wine is usually a blend of grapes the wine maker uses to soften or give character to the wine. Example of red blended varietal wine would be 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 25% of Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec and Petit Verdot. In the US this would be considered a varietal wine or discussed as wine varietals.
Wines that have two or more wine varieties on their label are blends and not considered wine varietals in the US. There is no predominant grape at the 75% or 85% range. To put it simply, it is a blend of grape juice the wine maker made from different grapes.
Blended wines are not necessarily considered inferior to wine varietals even though some people believe this to be true. Some of the world’s most expensive wines, from regions like Bordeaux and the Rhone Valley, are blended from different grape wine varieties of the same vintage.
I have tasted some excellent blends that have had nice tannin with big fruit coming through. The blend still had a complexity in the flavor similar to wine varietals but will be easier on the palette.
The Wine Maker Skills
Wine production is a some what complicated process because it includes the varieties of grapes used, elevation and shape of the vineyard, type and chemistry of soil, climate and seasonal conditions, and the local yeast cultures. The wine makers need to assess the wine production and use their skills every year. The range of possibilities here can result in great differences between wines, influence of the fermentation, finishing, and aging processes as well. Ever year is a new challenge. For us the wine drinker, it makes drinking wine whether varietal wine or a blended wine “fascinating”.
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