Tim Hong: Hi! I am Tim Hong, Certified Sommelier with Total Wine & More. Red blends have been a part of traditional winemaking for centuries in many great wine regions throughout the world. Here are three simple categories to distinguish red blends. The first is Bordeaux. In this region of France almost every wine made is a blend which can use only these five grapes; Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec, of which usually only two to three are blended. And for the most part, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot will make up over 75% of the wine. Wines that use these five key grapes from other regions across the world will use the terms Claret, Meritage, or Bordeaux style blend to describe the wine, especially in Napa and Sonoma where Bordeaux style red blend are commonly named. Another prominent red blend is the Rhne Blend. While there are many variations, the most typical and easy to find usually include Grenache, Syrah and Mourvdre grapes, with Grenache comprising at least 50% of the blend. Most commonly you will see Ctes du Rhne, Vacqueyras, Chteauneuf-du-Pape on the labels of the blend style.
As with Bordeaux, over the years this trend has taken hold in the US, Australia and many other countries. So look for a reference to the French Rhne Valley on the label to indicate a genuine Rhne Blend wine. More recently, making blends with other grapes has taken front stage. Some still include a few of the traditional grapes, but incorporate others like Zinfandel, Petite Sirah or Pinot Noir; these are usually very juicy, fruitful, and vibrant wines, making them great for parties or as everyday house wine.
So many to choose from, so little time, try something new, some really delicious wines are waiting to be explored. Cheers!