Thursday, August 12, 2010

Gene Spaziani: Wine Blending Suggestions

I am convinced that in many cases blending wine enhances it. By blending you are adding additional flavors to the primary wine. Traditional European winemakers have been blending wine for centuries, and now winemakers in the USA are finally discovering the many advantages of blending. And there are no limits (usually), as the only restrictions are the ones we place on ourselves. The Australians have shown us many blending partners that we never would have considered: e.g., Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz; Semillon and Chardonnay; Shiraz and Merlot. All have been successful and helped to create new and delightful wines.

Some blending I’ve done in recent years includes Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio, in two forms. In the first form Chardonnay is the primary wine (at 65 to 70 percent) and Pinot Grigio (at 30 to 35 percent) is the secondary wine. This wine I call Chargrigio. Then I take the 65 to 70 percent of Pinot Grigio and blend it with the 30 to 35 percent of the Chardonnay, and we have a wine called Grigonnay.

I’ve done that with Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc; Chardonnay and Riesling; Chenin Blanc and French Columbard; Chardonnay and Seyval Blanc; Gewรผrztraminer and Riesling and a wine that won a gold medal in Connecticut’s Annual Amateur Wine Competition — a blend of Muscat and Riesling that we called Muscaling.

The blending of red wines can be just as much fun, with positive results. Another one of my blends that won a medal recently was a blend of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc. It was about 60 percent Syrah and 20 percent each of the two Cabernets. The wine was called Syrahbernet.

Every year for the past 35 years or so, I have been blending several red wines into a wine I call Viniferoni for Macaroni. And I use a very scientific procedure in making this always very popular wine. I blend whatever I have left from my red batches into one batch, and sometimes I even put in some leftover white wines I might have hanging around. As long as the wines are sound, you will most likely get positive results and a wide range of different flavors. I make this wine in honor of my grandfather, Igino Spaziani, who encouraged me to become a winemaker.

You can also make pink or blush wines by adding a bottle or two of a spicy Zinfandel or Merlot to 5 gallons of French Columbard, Chenin Blanc, or other white wines. Considering that 20 percent of all wines sold in this country are pink wines, according to the Wine Business Monthly, a highly respected California publication, you might like having some in your cellar.

Have you ever made a blend of wine at home? Or a favorite blend you enjoy drinking? We'd love to hear our readers' top blended-wine picks!

Gene Spaziani is the author of The Home Winemaker’s Companion by Storey Publishing, a retired college educator, and an award-winning home winemaker who lives in Mystic, Connecticut. He can be reached by e-mail at

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