I want to talk about blends today on Wine Wednesday. If you're not familiar, let me explain. Usually when you're perusing the wine section at your local grocery store, you'll see single varietal wines (remember, the varietal refers to the type of grape used to make that wine - Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, etc.). But you may come across some wines that say something like "Red Table Wine" or some random name that doesn't mention a varietal. These are generally blends, and it's exactly what it sounds like - a blend of several different varietals.
The nice thing about blends is that they tend to be more consistent than single varietal wines. Some years a grape crop won't be as successful as other years, so a Merlot (or any other grape) from your favorite winery might be fantastic one year, but the next year might be just blah. With a blend, however, the flavors of each varietal come together to produce something totally different and the mediocrity of one grape isn't even noticed.
Another nice thing about blends is that they appeal to pretty much everyone's palate. Let's say you love a bold Cabernet but you're having guests over who prefer Zinfandel, which is a bit on the sweeter side. Serving a blend with both of those grapes, you'll get a great balance of the two and chances are everyone will enjoy it.
Here is a list of some of my favorite blends. I drink these fairly regularly and can attest to their deliciousness!
Freddie's Blend from Sagelands (their website appears to be non-existent at this time, otherwise I would link to it) is fabulous. Different blends are used each year but the one I like best is a simple Cabernet/Merlot blend. It has a really buttery flavor and even hints of caramel. It's pretty rich, but the caramel adds a bit of sweetness that I love. My local grocery store carries this for $8.99/bottle. Target, World Market and Trader Joe's also carry it for around the same price.
Don't let the name steer you away! Yes, it refers to a threesome - but a threesome of GRAPES. ;-) Menage a Trois makes a terrific blend, always using Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Zinfandel. It's great for every day drinking, but also pairs really well with a nice meal. The Scientist's mom loves this wine and we have it pretty much every time we go over there, whether it's for a casual family dinner or a Thanksgiving feast. I've seen this one range in price from $8.99 to $11.99 depending on the store. It's available at major grocery stores, Target, and World Market, but I'm not sure about Trader Joe's.
I mentioned Hogue Cellars in a previous post but didn't talk about their Red Table Wine blend. This is another blend that changes year to year depending on the crop. I don't buy this one as often as their single varietals, but that's because it seems to be harder to find. My local grocery store usually has it, but I don't see it as often at other stores. I've always enjoyed it, though. I believe this one runs around $7.99/bottle.
There are plenty of other blends out there to try, but this list will get you started. I also admit that I'm not as familiar with white blends, but the process and concept is the same as it is with red wine.
Do you drink blends? What are some of your favorites?
*These opinions are all my own. I'm not being paid to discuss these wines, nor is anyone giving me free wine to review...but I'm certainly not against it!