Red Blends/Other Reds

Wine blends offer more complexity than single-varietal wines and, in fact, test the true genius of a winemaker. Some of the world's finest wines are made from a blend of grapes rather than a single varietal. Winemakers in Italy defied their country's strict blending laws and created Super Tuscans from as many as six varietals which are classified as mere "table wines." Bordeaux blends combine two or three of six varietals. Chateauneuf-du-Pape (treated separately in is own category) is a blend of up to 13 different grapes, while France's Rhone region blends up to 15 different grapes to make truly sublime red and white blends. 

Red Bordeaux blends are known for their powerful structure and deep flavors. Dark fruits and berries, such as plum and black currant, are commonly used to describe the cascading flavors of red Bordeaux. Tannins tend to be high in these wines, giving them a firm structure, the best examples of which can age for many decades. Cabernet Sauvignon is widely accepted as a compulsory component of any Bordeaux blend, with Merlot following close behind. Other components are Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec, and even Carmenere, used in varying combinations and proportions. 

"Bordeaux-style" wines are developing both in the Old and New World. The Italians, for instance, have developed their own brand of Super Tuscans, wines that rely heavily on the Bordeaux blend but are augmented by Sangiovese. In Australia, Shiraz is often added to Bordeaux-style wines. And in California, some of the best wines produced in Sonoma County are blends of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. 

Meritage red wines, as defined in the U.S., must consist of two or more of the following varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petite Verdot, St. Macaire, Gros Verdot and Carmenere. No single varietal may make up more than 90% of the blend. As a rule, typical Bordeaux-style red wines have medium body and acidity, are dry and high in tannins, while typical U.S. Meritage red wines are full bodied with medium acidity, are dry and have medium tannins. 

Bordeaux red wines pair well with red, savory meats, whether grilled or roasted, such as beef, lamb, game, chicken and turkey; grilled, roasted or braised veal and pork; chili, hamburgers, meatloaf, mushrooms, cheese-based pastas and risotto. 

Cotes-du-Rhone red wines pair well with slightly acidic foods and sauces, including beef, barbecue, chicken, chili, game, sausages, pizza, grilled tuna and truffles. 

Generally speaking, the lighter and fruitier the red wine, the easier is to find the right cheese pairings. In considering which cheeses to match with a red wine blend, it would be best to base a decision upon the main varietal or varietals that comprise the particular red blend. For instance, cheeses that go well with Bordeaux red wines include mild and medium Cheddar, Edam, smoked Gouda, Muenster, aged Provolone, Parmigiano-Reggiano and Roncal. Cheeses that go well with Cotes-du-Rhone red blends include blue cheeses, Beaufort, Emmental, Gouda, Port Salut, Pont L'Eveque, Saint-Marcellin and Saint-Nectaire.