We’ve all heard the expression “two heads are better than one.” Perfect pairings bring out the best in one another. Think, goat cheese and honey, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, Golden Retrievers and Poodles…yeah, I’m going there. Why shouldn’t this logic also apply to wine?
Historically, the industry standard suggested that single varietal bottles are the top dogs of the wine world. We’re familiar with the cult following of Napa Cabernet Sauvignon, everyone loves a no-fuss Merlot and Pinot Noir is EVERYWHERE. But this leaves us asking an important question: where do Red Blends fall?
Before we dive too deep into this philosophical query, I’d like to talk about dogs. Stay with me here. It’s 2017, and by now you’ve heard of, seen or possibly even owned a Goldendoodle. They’re taking over the homes of America almost as quickly as they’re taking over our hearts, and rightfully so. This Golden Retriever-Poodle amalgamation presents the best of both breeds. They’re non-shedding, intelligent, even-tempered and cute as can be. And they’re certainly here to stay.
This breed, while not naturally recurring in the wild like their purebred ancestors, displays its own unique qualities and characteristics. This is the biggest part of Goldendoodles’ appeal. The mixed pups have a trait known as “hybrid vigor.” Hybrid vigor is what people reference when they say that mutts are inherently healthier, smarter and (of course) cuter than their parent breeds. Following this thought-process, Goldendoodles are obviously an improved version of two already amazing dogs.
Now that you’ve been sufficiently schooled on all things Doodle, let’s get back to the reason you’re here. (Unless you want to keep talking about adorable pups, I could really go all day.) Where do Red Blends fall in the realm of red wine? What makes them special? What in the world does this have to do with dogs? So glad you asked.
Much like the beloved Goldendoodle, Red Blends are a hybrid of two (or more) unique grapes that come together to produce an entire new breed of wine. To create a wine blend, the breeder – or winemaker, in this case – looks at the characteristics of one of their wines. The vintner (vintner is the fancy name for winemaker) notes the wine’s qualities and flaws, and seeks out counterparts in other vino that can either enhance or correct the aspects of wine #1. For example, let’s say the original wine is a Cabernet Sauvignon with too-strong tannins and a bite that’s bigger than its bark. The vintner may blend in a gentler Merlot with the Cab Sauv to balance out the wine.
GSM blends, arguably some of the most well-known, are a combination of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre. Much like the loveable Golden Retriever or fiercely intelligent Poodle, these wines are already great on their own. Grenache is a lighter-skinned grape with low tannins and ripe red fruits. Syrah is bold, spicy and dark. Mourvedre is meaty, full-bodied and herbaceous. When combined to create GSM blends, however, the result is one of the most delicious wines in the world.
It’s important to remember that, like in our favorite designer dog, each component in a Red Blend is subordinate to the whole. Though all parts are clearly present and uniquely enjoyable, their result is an incomparably delicious blend. The next time you’re questioning which wine to grab from the aisle, think about this endearing pooch. The Golden Retriever and Poodle may be familiar, but you might find that their blend is even more charming.
Sources: Food and Wine, Wine Folly, Petwave