Friday 16 March 2012

It's in the Mix

I have always been a single variety wine kind of guy, perhaps because I assumed that all the good stuff goes into single variety wines and blends are made from the leftovers. 
In some instances, this may be true when it comes to mass production of blended wines, but this is not the case at all when quality blends are produced. The purpose of blending is to combine 2 or more wines and make them better as a whole. Now this doesn’t mean that you can just go and add good wine to any old plonk to make it better, each wine has to contribute positively to the whole in some way or form.

There are several reasons why a winemaker may want to blend wines: 
  • To enhance the aroma
  • To improve the colour
  • To add or minimize flavours and tastes
  • To adjust the pH
  • To lower or raise acidity
  • To raise or lower alcohol levels
  • To adjust the sweetness of a wine
  • To correct a wine with too much oak flavour
  • To raise or lower levels of tannin

Wine blending really is an art and quite damn fun too. If you and your buddies are into wine, invite them over and have an evening of blending, not cake mix, but bottles and bottles of the vino and to make it even more interesting, make a competition out of it.
That’s what we did at a Cellar Rats Tasting a couple weeks ago at Luca’s Pizzeria in Sunninghill, an Italian Restaurant with great ambiance and wine selection. The always hospitable Luca, judged the final blends and obviously my team, consisting of myself, Kimce and Christopher, won! With a Cape blend theme in mind, the winning blend contained: 50% Pinotage, 30% Shiraz and 20% Merlot and the wines used were: 2008 Stellenzicht Golden Triangle Pinotage, 2009 Fleur Du Cap Shiraz and 2010 Excelsior Merlot.   

I was absolutely amazed at how just the slightest amendment to these percentages made a world of difference to the final product. When one studies the intricacies of the blending beast, quite a few factors have to be taken into account as the effects thereof are highly elastic (slight change in an input = sharp change in result, for you non-economically inclined folk). Such factors may include: vintage, alcohol percentage, acidity, tannic structure, level of wood maturation, residual sugar, weight, balance, flavour and aroma of the wines.

All in all, lots of wine was consumed and it was an interesting evening ending off with a dance routine, which hopefully does not end up on YouTube, as well as one of the committee members ACCIDENTALLY, almost kissing another guy goodbye. Hahaha... 

Luca’s Pizzeria is located at Rivonia Crossing Shopping Centre on the corner of Rivonia and Witkoppen Roads.
Cellar Rats Wine Tasting Club meet on Wednesdays at 19:00 at the Morningside Country Club (Tennis Clubhouse)

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