Saturday, August 12, 2006

Can we blend our own wine?

Wine blending is a common practice in the winemaking world. It is used to overcome certain deficiencies or defects in the must, to balance the wine or to enhance complexity. In other words, we blend wine either to correct some misses or to improve the wine. This technique is made popular by Bordeaux when climatic conditions become challenging and straight varietal wines do not usually turn out to be easy drinking. The famous Bordeaux blend consisting of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc has since become the most common blend in winemaking practices. In the case of Bordeaux, blending begins in the vineyard where the vines are planted with mixed varieties. In most wine producing regions, blending occurs at the must level before fermentation through any stage during wine processing. Without going into too much technical details, the parameters that can be modified are the wine’s acidity, pH, alcohol level, color, tannin, aroma and flavor, volatile acidity, residual sugar, off-flavor components. Where some of these parameters are quantifiable, a mathematical formula was derived by Dr Magalit to determine the amount of wines to be used to arrive at the desired value. The formula is P1+P2*X=Pb*(1+X) where P1 and P2 are the two wines to be blended. Although the concept seems simple, there are many underlying rules to a successful blend (to be covered later in the blog as this is a topic by itself!)

A common problem related to stabilization occurs if blending is done at the advanced stage of processing. We can see this in the form of precipitation in the must. Therefore, it is always better to blend the wine much earlier. A cool down (5-10C) period of 2-3 weeks is recommended to stabilize the must and observe for any irregularities. It is much like a pre-marriage arrangement where two parties get to know each other before the big day.

So, blending itself is pretty scientific and has its own constraints. I will not try to blend two finished products together since the environment and the chemistry of the wine are not ideal for such activity. The best approach is to work with a winemaker to taste his blends during winemaking and provide your feedback to him in its composition. This of course requires a trained palate and years of experience. For wine enthusiasts, it will be a superb experience. For wine students, it will be a perfect opportunity to have your wine knowledge validated. Sort of a full circle activity.

Copyright of Wine Treasures Pte Ltd

Cher Lim
Wine Tresures Pte Ltd



Blogger Brent Shinyeda said...

Cher-Did a blending seminar at McMurray Ranch in Sonoma (very nice pinots). Our blend was syrah based with additions of vioginer, petite sirah, and something else that I can't seem to remember now. The final blend tasted good, Australian in style (try d'Arnenberg-The Laughing Magpie shiraz/viog). They allowed me to bottle a 750ml of the blend to take home, tried it a month later-it was horrible. Needless to say, blending is an art.

Sun Aug 13, 02:31:00 PM  
Blogger Cher Lim said...

Dear Brent, nice to hear from you!
Yes, blending is an art as well as a science. There are some basic formula in terms of pH and TA proportion between the different wine and the storage condition to achieve stability.

I like Viognier very much. A blend that really does well here in my wine place is Marsanne+Rousanne+Viognier. Tropical fragrance on the nose with a juicy palate. It has a savory finish that makes you long for the next glass. I think it is a very successful white wine that creates the umami on the palate!

Mon Aug 28, 10:44:00 AM  

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