Red blends make up a massive category in the wine industry for a few reasons: Most importantly, they’re fairly inexpensive, and appeal to a range of audiences. Bottles below $15 tend to be sweeter and richer wines that are juicy and easy-drinking. Above $15, bottles tend to have more structure and less residual sugar, appealing to wine drinkers looking for accessible, yet more serious wines.
According to the data firm Nielsen, red blend table wine (excluding Chianti) has grown to nearly $2 billion in off-premise sales in the U.S. over the last year, from almost $1.7 billion just four years ago. It’s a bigger category than sparkling wine, which is at $1.75 billion, and rosé, at $576 million. VinePair’s own internal data confirms that consumers are deeply interested in the category. Per VinePair Audience Insights, consumer interest in “red blends” is quickly rising, with drinkers searching for the term as if it were a variety. Red blends were the third most popular “variety” in VinePair’s wine rankings in 2019, up from ninth place in 2017. Google Trends shows similar findings.
And retailers around the country are seeing the same. “It’s a huge category but it wasn’t always that way,” says Alex Poreda, director of sales at ABC Fine Wine & Spirits, a Florida-based retail chain with 124 stores. Poreda says that red blends from the United States make up the majority of the category, and that they are a leading seller across the chain. “It’s really easy for people to take a chance on a bottle of wine under $12, but it did take a while to build,” he says.
To get a sense of the wines leading the red blend category, we looked to Total Wine, one of the country’s largest wine retailers, for its top customer-ranked bottles. Here’s what to know about the biggest red blend brands and bottles.
15 Best-Ranked Red Blends on Total Wine
Kendall-Jackson Napa Valley Vintner’s Reserve Red Wine Blend
When the Jackson family purchased a pear and walnut orchard in 1974, little did they know the eventual winery would become one of the most influential in California. It is still family-owned to this day. Vintner’s Reserve is the flagship range. This blend is made up mostly of Syrah and Zinfandel, displaying rich fruit, spiciness, and lush tannins. Average price: $15.
Robert Mondavi Oakville BDX
Another trailblazer in the California wine industry, Robert Mondavi winery was founded in 1966. BDX stands for Bordeaux — this is a Bordeaux-style blend with a majority of Cabernet Sauvignon. While many red blends are from larger AVAs like Napa Valley or California, this one’s grapes come specifically from the Oakville sub-AVA. It tastes like black plum, blackberry, baking spices, and cocoa. Average price: $52.
Witching Hour California Red Blend
The Witching Hour is a spooky-sounding red made by The Wine Group, the folks behind big brands such as Cupcake, Franzia, and Benziger. It’s a classic Bordeaux blend, showing dark cherry fruit and vanilla. Average price: $8.
Radius Washington State Red Blend
Radius was founded in 2008 and makes wines from both California and Washington, but it’s a wine from the latter that made it onto this list. The Washington Red Blend combines Bordeaux grapes like Cabernet and Merlot with Syrah. It’s red-fruit-forward, with hints of cocoa and tea. Average price: $12.
A3 California Red Blend
The three As are “anytime, anyplace, anyone,” a nod to enjoying the moment with a good glass of wine. A3 is a brand by Trinchero Family Estates, which owns Ménage à Trois, Sutter Home, Joel Gott, and many more. The red blend has flavors of red fruit as well as sweet, spicy oak notes. Average price: $7.
Crimson Thread California Red Blend
Crimson Thread is in the portfolio of one of the wine industry’s largest companies — see a pattern here? E&J Gallo was established in 1933 and is still family-owned today. This red is a blend of Cabernet, Merlot, and Zinfandel; it’s rich, with dark cherry and blackberry flavors rounded out by spice and vanilla. Average price: $8.
Ancient Roots California Red Blend
True to its name, Ancient Roots focuses on making wine from old vines, which tend to produce fruit with much more intensity and concentration. This bottling is no exception, exhibiting dark cherry and vanilla, with a plush mouthfeel. It’s a Cabernet-Malbec blend. Average price: $8.
Big Six Bourbon Barrel Red Blend
The Big Six wine is notable for being aged in bourbon barrels for three months prior to bottling, adding some oomph in the form of spice, vanilla, and caramel to the Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel fruit, which show off cherry and blackberry flavors. Plus, this wine is vegan. Average price: $16.
San Antonio Cardinale American Sweet Red
San Antonio is an urban winery in Los Angeles founded in 1917. It now also has locations in Paso Robles and Monterey. The Cardinale is based on Cardinal, a relatively unknown grape mostly used for sweet reds. Despite the residual sugar, this wine is described as juicy and refreshing. Average price: $8.
The Prisoner Napa Valley Red Blend
The Prisoner is one of Napa Valley’s biggest success stories. Star winemaker Dave Phinney created it in 2000; it would become so popular that the brand was sold to Huneeus Vintners in 2010, and then to Constellation Brands in 2016. The ripe and smooth kitchen-sink blend has mostly stayed the same, led by Zinfandel and complemented by Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah, Syrah, and Charbono. Average price: $47.
Cooper & Thief California Red Wine Blend
Here’s another wine aged in bourbon barrels — a trend! — and also for three months. This Cooper & Thief wine is a mix of several grape varieties, including Merlot, Syrah, Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, and Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s jammy with velvety tannins, and is 17 percent alcohol. Average price: $25.
Vinestone California Sweet Red
Vinestone is another sweet red on this list that exemplifies interest in this subcategory. The reviews for this wine note that it is quite sweet. Drink it as a dessert wine, or pair with spicy foods. But it also has a juicy and refreshing quality from cherry and peach flavors. Average price: $10.
19 Crimes Australia Red Blend
This is another roaring success in the world of red blends, but this one hails from Australia. Each label of 19 Crimes depicts a famous convict who comes to life and tells their story when processed through the winery’s augmented reality app. The bold Red Blend displays Irish separatist John Boyle O’Reilly and is a blend of Shiraz, Grenache, and Mataro. Average price: $9.
Melodramatic California Red Blend
Launched in 2016, Melodramatic Wines leans heavily into its retro-style, performance-art-inspired branding. The Red Blend allies Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, and Cabernet. Its flavor profile centers on cherries and blackberries, with a touch of black pepper. Average price: $12.
Pour Haus California Red Blend
Wine in boxes and cans is also a growing category. This medium-bodied and smooth Pour Haus wine comes in a 3-liter box and is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Pinot Noir. Average price: $16 for a 3-liter box.