Grape  Varieties and Blending

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Grapes varieties in italics blend well with premium grapes. For reds, blend no more than 15% of total. For whites up to 50%.


Reds


Alicante: A good blending grape. One of the few red grape varieties that has red pulp as well as red skin. Makes intense, dark purplish wines that may be rather neutral in flavour and low in acid. Use it to add colour to short term wines.

Barbera: Deep purple grape that often has high acidity. Especially good when young or when blended.

Cabernet Sauvignon: Great Cabs have bouquets with traces of cassis, blackberry, cedar, butterscotch, green peppers, chocolate, coca, leather. Deep, plummy richness.

Carignane: Good grapey, juicy fruit. Medium tannin. Blend it with Grenache to make a red table wine.

Grenache: Cherry in the colour, aroma, and flavour. Can make a wonderful rosť.

Lemberger: Deep rich flavours and colours with hints of spiciness and earthiness.

Merlot: Produces supple and richly coloured wines with a nutmeg spciness and plummy fruitiness. Blends well with Cabernet Sauvignon and is ideal for early drinking.

Pinot Noir: An aroma of raspberries or strawberries: can be full-bodies but is never heavy like Cab. An elegant grape tat takes a lifetime to make well.

Petite Sirah: Not related to Syrah/Shiraz. Deep, dark colour with jamminess and good acidity.

Ruby Cabernet: Deep-coloured and pleasant. Best enjoyed young.

Valdespenas: Light colour, low acid, rather neutral flavour. Blends well with Greanache and Cabernet Sauvignon to make a Spanish red. Best drunk young.

Zinfandel: Deep and red-purple colour. (can be high sugars), Berry-like, jammy-intense, spicy characteristic.


White Grape Varieties


Chardonnay: Depending on how it is made. Chardonnay can have flavours like rip apples, pineapples, mangoes, pears, peaches, melons, vanilla, butter, or caramel. Can be blended with French Colombard, Chenin Blanc.

French Colombard: Fresh lemony fruitiness that is best enjoyed young. Its neutral flavour makes it good for blending.

Chenin Blanc: Appley-honeyed-floral scent, tart acidity, and good body. Best enjoyed young and fresh.

Muscat: Light, characteristic aroma (musky) and flavour.

Muscat Cannelli: Similar to Johannisberg Riesling but more intensive flavours and aroma with a hint of flowers. Makes excellent dessert wines.

Palomino: The grape of Sherry. Soft and rather neutral flavour.

Johannisberg Riesling: The soft yet strong nose of peaches, apricots, lemons, and honey. Fresh and delicious young but can develop beautifully with age.

Sauvignon Blanc: Aroma that is grassy, herbaceous, and citrus. Crisp, bracing flavour of apples, lemons, and grapefruit.

Semillon: Soft, smooth flavour with some herbal spiciness. A good grape to blend with Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay.


HOW TO BLEND

Some grape varieties improve when blended. Sample blends of wines that are lacking in opposite qualities are made up in small measured amounts and tasted before the bulk wines are blended. Do not bottle blended wines immediately. Store them in bulk for at least 30 days so they adjusted to each other. Sometimes blending will produce a haze that will need to be cleared.

A good experiment in blending is to blend finished wines. This produces a variety of wines for the cellar. For example: with 20 litres Cabernet Sauvignon and 20 litres of Merlot bottle a case of each and blend the remainder thus producing three red table wines. By changing the proportions, even more blends can be made.


For more about grapes go to:

THE SUPER GIGANTIC WWW WINEGRAPE GLOSSARY

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Copyright © 2002 British Columbia Amateur Winemakers Association (BCAWA)