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The Winemaker’s Think Tank: Vol 36 – “If I want to make a blend, do I mix the grapes together when I crush, or ferment them separately and blend later?”

What’s the Winemaker’s Think Tank?
Every Thursday we will post about a few frequently asked questions that our winemaker has answered. If you have a winemaking question you would like to have answered, please email us at support@juicegrape.com and we will try to get into next week’s post. Cheers! :)

Grapes are crushed by hand

If I want to make a blend, do I mix the grapes together when I crush, or ferment them separately and blend later?

There are many approaches to creating a blended wine and the chosen path is directly influenced by the desired end result. Blending at crush is often referred to as a field blend. The winemaker may choose to blend at crush when 80% of the blend is one grape. Using cabernet sauvignon as an example, a winemaker may add in a crate or two of Petite Syrah or Petite Verdot to enhance the dark color of the Cabernet Sauvignon. The winemaker may choose to add a crate or two of Cabernet Franc to enhance the spiciness and perceived acidity of the wine. Adding a small amount of a different grape to the larger percentage of the dominant grape in a blend will change the wine subtly, enhancing an aspect of the original grape that may be lacking such as color or acidity.

If the winemaker would prefer to have greater and much more finite control over the flavors in the resulting blend, fermenting each varietal individually would be more advantageous. Different yeast strains may be used on different varietals to enhance specific varietal characters. After a period of separate bulk aging, the wine maker can make different sample blends to determine the final blend of the wines they desire. Perhaps the entire quantity of a varietal will not be needed for the blend or perhaps only small additions of one varietal to another will be necessary to create a balanced final product. The winemaker can create more than one blend with a few separately vinified wines as changing the varietal percentages can greatly affect the final product.

We hope this information helps with your winemaking. If you have any follow up questions or winemaking questions in general, please email us at support@juicegrape.com.

 

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