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BLENDING PARTY – A NEW TWIST – FLASH DASH – WHAT’S IN YOUR GLASS?

OK. So recently I have been writing  about inexpensive wines and doing blending of wines that are not exactly to my liking to make something better. Yes, I know that sounds radical to some and downright heresy to some wine purists. So what? Get over it. Wine is just a beverage. It is a beverage that exists to complement your food and contribute to the dining experience. So given that, how is it different from food? For me, it isn’t. It is just another food group. But, I love great food and I love great wine. I am always looking for ways to enhance my experience with both and enjoy them both together. And, since I have established that I am curious in these writings, it follows that when I cook I like to experiment by blending different ingredients and creating a dish that I think is better than the sum of its parts.  And, yes there are a lot of people who would say that the food and wine at Chez Tilson is a cut above your average hash joint.

So, if I blend foods to make different dishes, why shouldn’t I blend wines to make a better wine? I see nothing at all unusual about this. I am just really surprised that it took me so long to come up with it. (And, in case you’re wondering, yes, I am a senior citizen entitled to the 10% senior discount at the local hardware store!) But wait just a minute. Don’t go there. I am not talking about blending wines that I really like. I am only talking about young wines that I am not totally crazy about.  In the recent article entitled Take The Wine Challenge – Blending Is Your Friend , I published my recipes for three red wine blends that I thought were significantly better than the individual wines used to make the blend. I had done extensive tastings of 33 different inexpensive red wines for The Dueling Inexpensive Red Wine  Line-Ups article. Obviously I liked some more than others. They were all wines I had never tasted before. And, had I not been doing the article, I am sure I would have never purchased most of them.

So guess what? I had a few that I did not like so much. And others that I thought could be enhanced by adding other wines. The third recipe included 2 wines that were Not Recommended and a  Recommended wine and a Highly Recommended wine. It was the most challenging, but by blending the four wines in varying amounts I created a wine that I really liked and rated  Highly Recommended. In fact, I liked it so much that I drank the glass that I blended. Some days later, I decided to repeat the red wine blend recipe and make another glass. I tasted it and the blend seemed just the same and just as good as the first. But, I was now craving another style of wine to go with the food I was about to eat. I was putting together my food when I noticed some open white wines in the refrigerator. One was the lovely 2009 Willamette Valley Vineyards Pinot Gris which I love and have been drinking. Suddenly, the taste of that wine ran through my mind and onto my palate which was still linked to the blended red wine I had just tasted.

Zing! I was hit by an inspiration. I grabbed the Pinot Gris and poured enough to equal about ¼ of the red wine. I swirled it and smelled it. Fabulous – an enhanced bouquet with hints of peaches and flowers. On the palate there was very complex fruit and the wine was very smooth and soft. It was really delicious with just the slightest chill from adding the cold white wine. It was by sheer accident that I blended Pinot Gris with the blended red wine. But, then the wheels started turning and I remembered how Viognier is often added to Syrah in making Côte Rotie. This really works. And, I am actually surprised that more new world producers of massive Syrahs  have not done the same thing. I think it would greatly enhance the complexity and drinkability of many of these wines. In fact, adding different white wines to a lot of red wines is something that deserves more consideration.

So the next night I had an open bottle of  Oceana Winery Project Happiness Syrah in the refrigerator. And, I decided to make a blend with some white wine. In the refrigerator I also had an open bottle of  a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. It had a bit too much grassiness for me, but I loved the crispness and grapefruit flavors. So I added the Sauvignon Blanc to the Syrah in a ratio of 1 part Sauvignon Blanc to 3 parts Syrah. The wine was cold as both bottles were taken straight from the refrigerator, but I was looking for a chilled wine so this fit the bill. And, guess what? The added zip and tang of the blend was really delicious. In fact, it was so nice that I decided to see what it would be like if I moved the blend more toward rosé. So I reversed the blend – 3 parts Sauvignon Blanc to 1 part Syrah. Eureka! I had a delicious tangy, fruity, full flavored rosé with lots of zip!

So at last, I found an additional dose of happiness that had escaped me when I first tasted the Oceana Wines Project Happiness Syrah for The Dueling Inexpensive Red Wine Line-Ups article (To read the article click here [1]). And, so what if I had to bring in a saucy Sauvignon Blanc to find my happiness? Strange stuff can be interesting. The little tart was a great complement to the big boy! And, in this case, I had blended wines that suited my taste better than either of the 2 wines I used in the blend.

Now I realize that the blending possibilities for unknown new wines that do not exactly fit my taste are almost limitless. Or, at least, limited only to the extent that wines that I blend still do not meet my taste. Wow! I am tickled pink about my discovery. For me, it is a way to move up  in enjoyment for almost any young wine that does not meet my expectations.  And, all with just a little flash dash. So go ahead and try new wines. Red wines, white wines, rosés. It doesn’t matter. If they are not quite up to your expectations, put a cork in them and put them in the refrigerator. And, then over the next few days blend them with something else. And always remember where you are. This is not main street media. It isn’t even wine street media. It’s the Underground. Expect the unexpected. Be adventuresome. Try new wines. If some don’t exactly meet your taste, don’t despair, start blending. And pass along the concept and recipes to your friends. It’s the Blending Game!

The Original Blending Game Party!

So be the first on your block to have a Blending Game party!  This could find you happiness. It works for me. I’m lovin’ it!  Just a flash dash — it’s what’s in my glass. What’s in your glass?

In Vino Veritas,Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard

John Tilson

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