Varietals and Blends

Varietals & Blends

Varietal describes a wine made primarily from a single named grape variety, and which typically displays the name of that variety on the wine label. Examples of grape varieties commonly used in varietal wines are Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Merlot. Wines that display the name of two or more varieties on their label, such as a Chardonnay-Viognier, are blends and not varietal wines. The term is frequently misused in place of vine variety; the term variety refers to the vine or grape while varietal refers to the wine produced by a variety. In California, a wine may only be called by its varietal name if it contains at least 75% of that varietal.

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Blends. At its most basic, vintners blend wine made from different grapes in order to add more complexity to the flavor and texture of a wine. The goal of blending wine made in different vintages is more to balance out the flavor characteristics. Both reds and whites can be made from blends of varietals. In some cases, they may even blend whites and reds together in order to create the best possible combination of aromas and flavors. In France, Bordeaux-style wines are blends. In California, Bordeaux-style blends are referred to as Meritage Blends, so as not to infringe upon the legally protected Bordeaux designation.

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