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We just blended a 55-gal. (210-L) oak barrel with a blend of 60% Zinfindel and 40% Merlot…

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Gary Anderson — Lodi, California asks,
Q

We just blended a 55-gal. (210-L) oak barrel with a blend of 60% Zinfindel and 40% Merlot. Whatever comes out, we’re going to drink it! But could we have done better with a different combination? Please advise.

A
The Zin of Blending Since I can’t taste your wine and so don’t know the profile of each individual component, it’s hard to give you “the right” answer. And I would hazard that there really is no right answer; it all depends on what you are trying to achieve in your final wine. Zinfandel is a fun grape to work with because it can be made in so many different styles, from heavy Port-style dessert wines to light, dry rosés. Similarly, Zinfandel exhibits extreme character differences depending on where and how it’s grown. Head-trained Zin from Amador County, California, for example, can be really rich and almost Port-like (even when made in a table wine style) whereas I find that “old vine” Zinfandel from the Russian River appellation of California is more of an elegant wine with fewer tannins and can be more food-friendly. Which one is better? It’s impossible to say. It all depends on what it is that you like to drink. Sorry to put so much of the responsibility on you, but especially for home winemakers who
Response by Alison Crowe.