Classic Red Blends

Red Rhone grapes were born to blend – the exception here is almost NOT to blend them. Even syrah, the leader of the pack, is as likely to be blended as bottled as a single varietal. Hundreds of years of experimentation with these grapes have produced a few standard variations on the blending theme. (And in the U.S., of course, Zinfandel and Petite Sirah often qualify as “honorary” blending grapes with the traditional Rhone varieties.)

Probably the three most common strategies with red blends are:

(1) The Chateauneuf model: Start with about half Grenache, add in a good proportion of Syrah and / or Mourvedre for oomph and aging, and round out the complexity with an amazing array of other red and even white grapes.

(2) The hot-weather model: Various proportions of Grenache, Cinsault and Carignan, designed to produce early-drinking wines.

(3) The down under model: Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon, in various proportions.