The Wine in Your Glass is Not What You Think it is

…and why that’s OK!

Disclaimer: For our readers who work in the wine industry, you will find this post comical, but not informative. For you casual wine lovers out there, prepare yourselves…

As I advanced my education in wine, I became more aware of odd preconceived notions those close to me had about wine. One in particular still resonates. People seem to have an inherent bias against blends. Here’s an example from my own family. I caught on to my father dropping these comments about red and white blends as if they were somehow guaranteed to be “everything but the kitchen sink” or at least equivalent in quality to Natural Light. “Yeah, but that’s a blend. How about this Napa Cab instead?” “You can’t age that wine because it’s a blend…Right?”

Dad, ever heard of Bordeaux? Blends. All of them. And that $15 Cotes du Rhone you’ve been habitually buying after you liked the display in the wine shop? Blend.

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But I intend something different here than listing off the world’s best wines that aren’t single varietals so you avoid the sins of my father. Let me go a step further.

Not only should you value blends as the majestic product of artful winemakers, but a lot of the wine you buy does not consist of a single grape variety, even if it says it does on the label.

No, you did not misread. That bottle that says Chardonnay on the front may consist of wine from grapes other than Chardonnay.

 Now, before you start rioting at the gates of every winery for lying to you, take a breath and keep reading. Uncle Sam requires if a wine label lists “Cabernet Sauvignon” for example, the wine must consist of at least 75% Cabernet Sauvignon.  That’s 25% left for the winemaker to work her magic behind the curtain.

 Understandably, your reaction may be to view every wine producer as a master of puppets, pulling your strings, twisting your mind and smashing your dreams. But let me propose a different response.

 At Grace Estate, customers have the unique opportunity to taste completely Estate-grown wines. An important sense of place comes out in every glass. In wine-speak, we talk about terroir, describing the impact the natural elements have on the wine that distinguish its place of origin. For example, our vineyard ascends the first mountains that grow into the Blue Ridge, resulting in a place with constant airflow, which limits humidity here even more than some of our neighbors in the region. As a result, we’re well known for our dry wines full of enhanced minerality, earth, and overall power.

To speak in these terms rather than particular characteristics of one grape versus another ought to be a larger feature of your wine enjoyment. If the winemaker has delivered a wine you enjoy that tells its own story with every sip, who the hell cares what’s in it? And if you’re generally a crusader for transparency, make the producer tell you where it’s from rather than its specific contents. You may actually learn more about what you like and why you like it when you make wine about place rather than variety.

Peter Dimmick