Technique

Cabernet Sauvignon – Syrah Wine Blends

  Home winemakers often resort to a little blending to improve their wines — to add a little more body, tweak the acid balance or deepen the color, or just because it takes one more gallon of something to fill that barrel. But many of the world’s great wines, and maybe even a higher percentage of the world’s pretty good wines, are designed as blends from the start. Think Bordeaux, where two grapes in the mix are a kind of minimum and four or five not uncommon. Take Châteauneuf-du-Pape, with 13 grape varieties (and counting) allowed in the soup. Or take Australia’s signature blend, Cabernet-Shiraz, sometimes known as Shiraz-Cabernet, an Oz staple with a lot to recommend it. The first time I encountered this blend, early in the Australian invasion of US wine shelves, I thought it seemed rather odd. Why would you blend two big wines, each capable of standing on its own? Wouldn’t that make something overly heavy, clumsy, fighting with itself? But after some tasting, I figured out the underlying logic of this blend: the Cabernet Sauvignon