Blends vs. Varietal Wines: What’s the Difference?

Inspired by one of VinePair’s most popular site sections, the Wine 101 podcast takes an educational, easy-to-digest look into the world of wine. This week’s episode is brought to you by Apothic Wine. From rich red blends, to an alluring white and rosé with dark secrets, Apothic makes wines that are anything but ordinary. Ignite your curiosity with Apothic Red, an intriguing blend that launched the Apothic legacy. Because good wine, like a good time, should mix things up a little. Bold nights call for a rebellious wine. Apothic Red: There’s mischief in the making.

Welcome back to Wine 101. In this podcast episode, VinePair tastings director Keith Beavers dives into wine blending. From accidental field blends occurring before proper grape identification was established, to intentional, modern-day practices, he covers the when and why so many different wines are mixed together.

Beavers compares a winemaker to a chef: Much like a chef brings together the best ingredients for a dish, a winemaker combines precise proportions of ingredients for their product, in this case wine, to create the perfect final bottle. In a Bordeaux blend that uses Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Petit Verdot grapes, for example, the Cabernet grape adds tannic structure; Merlot adds supple smoothness; and Petit Verdot adds a beautiful deep purple hue. From year to year, depending on the quality of each grape varietal, the exact proportions used in the blend are adjusted for optimal taste.

After tuning into this episode, listeners will understand the blending process, what the phrase “varietal wine” means, and why the term “Red Blend” is so popular on U.S. wine bottles right now.

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