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« American Wine Trivia for Thanksgiving | Main | Happy Cabernet Day! A Quiz on the Grape »

"I Don't Like Blends" - A Quiz

The other day, I was evangelizing about wine, as I tend to do from time to time, and I was excitedly telling a woman about a new red blend that I thought was a good value. (For those of you curious, the particular wine that I was referring to was the Cameron Hughes Lot 348 California Field Blend.) As I was explaining the origins of the term "field blend," the woman stopped me. "Oh, that's okay," she said. "I don't really like blends."

I was somewhat stunned for a moment, but regrouped and asked the woman why she disliked blended wines. She replied that she preferred to understand what individual grape varietals taste like, as opposed to tasting a bunch of grapes that were thrown together. I sighed, and told her that as much as Americans like to focus on specific grapes, and specific grape varietals, blending is an integral part of winemaking. Even wines that are labelled as single varietals (e.g. Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay) are allowed to have a certain percentage of other grape varietals in the final makeup of the wine. The percentage that is allowed varies by country. Although there are a few appellations that forbid blending, and insist on the use of a single grape varietal, most winemakers will tell you that they appreciate the creativity and freedom afforded by being able to create a blended wine. Most will also say that having the freedom to blend generally results in a better product. 

Blended wines can be found all over the world, and in most other countries, a wine's geography and sense of place are considered to be equally as important as the grapes that it is made from. You may love Bordeaux, but did you know that five different grapes can be used in the blend, and that there is no regulation regarding the proportions in which they are blended? A fan of Côtes du Rhône? 23 grapes can be used.

Coincidentally, our 2nd Week of Wine Discovery Classes at Levity focuses on key vintner choices, and along with the use of oak and the use of malolactic fermentation, blending is one of the most important decisions any winemaker faces. To that end, here's a quiz on blending. Submit your responses using our General Question Form. The winner gets their choice of free admission to one Wine Discovery Class at Levity, or a Starbucks gift card.

  1. Up to five red grapes can be used to make red wine in Bordeaux. Name them.
  2. Where did the term field blend originate from?
  3. In the United States, if a wine is labeled as a single varietal (e.g. Cabernet Sauvignon), what percentage of the wine has to be made from that grape? What is the percentage in Argentina? In Australia?
  4. Name two appellations that do not allow blending.
  5. What is the proprietary trademarked name (one word) for American wines made in a Bordeaux-style? What two words were used to coin the name?
  6. 23 different grapes can be used to make red Côtes du Rhône, but what three grapes are required to comprise at least 70% of the blend?

Good luck! All the answers should be fairly easy to find, if you put in a little work. If you're having trouble, feel free to sign up for Week 2 of Wine Discovery Class at Levity, and come ask questions!

We'll post the answers to the quiz next Friday.

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