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Blending Wine

This page will provide hints on how to blend your wines for success.

By definition, blending wine simply means you are combining two or more wines to create a new one.

There are several reasons why a winemaker might want to blend wines:

  • To enhance aroma
  • To improve the color
  • To add or minimize flavors and tastes
  • To adjust the pH of a wine
  • To lower or raise acidity
  • To raise or lower alcohol levels
  • To adjust the sweetness of a wine
  • To correct a wine with too much oak flavor
  • To raise or lower levels of tannin

In general, you should follow some simple rules when blending wines:

  • Always have a goal in mind. For instance, will this be a two-bottle experiment that will be done for fun, or are you seeking to create gallons of a new blend that will later be bottled?
  • Blend wines of similar type (mix red with red, and white with white).
  • Never blend a bad wine with good wine in an attempt to make "acceptable" wine. You will be sorely disappointed, and your good wine will have been wasted.
  • Begin by blending small quantities of wine until you achieve the desired effect. No need to make a lot of something you may not be pleased with!
  • If you intend on keeping your blends for a while, blend wines that were made in the same year.
  • Keep good notes on your blending attempts so you can duplicate the blend in the future.

When blending wines, consider the factors that affect how wine is perceived by the taster and eliminate anything that may hinder objective testing. For instance, you should do the blending in a well-lit room without any undue aromas or other sensory distractions. Unless your intent is to drink all the resulting blend yourself (yipee!), it would be a good idea to ask some friends over to help you judge the blends.

Believe it or not, there is actually a scientific approach to blending wines - but don't worry, it's really rather simple. If you can add and subtract, we'll show you a method of blending that involves using a visual math tool known as the Pearson Square.

The easiest way to illustrate how the Pearson Square works is to do an example....

For our illustration, let's say we are blending because we would like to lower the level of alcohol in our wine. We have some Merlot that is 15% alcohol, and we would like to blend it with another wine so we end up with a target alcohol of 12%. The other wine's alcoholic content is 11%.

Let's begin by showing you what the Pearson Square looks like. See the figure below:

Pearson Square

The center of the square, shown by the letter "C", represents the "target" value we want to blend for (in this case, we want to obtain a wine of 12% alcohol).

The upper left corner, shown by the letter "A", represents the known alcohol percentage of wine #1 (Our Merlot, which is 15%).

The lower left corner, shown by the letter "D", represents the known alcohol percentage of wine #2 (another Merlot, which is 11%).

To use the Pearson Square, we merely substitute numbers for the letters in the diagram, and then do some simple subtraction. We find the difference between the values in the corner and the center "target" value, and place the answer in the opposite corners. This value is always the absolute value (no negative numbers allowed!) of the difference.... so, for our example:

15 minus 12 equals 3, and
12 minus 11 equals 1

Here's what the Pearson Square looks like now:

Pearson Square - Example calculations

Voila! As you can see, we need 3 parts of the 11% wine to mix with 1 part of the 15% wine, and we will end up with our "target" wine of 12%. Pretty neat, huh?

It's easy to use this same sort of logic when you want to raise or lower pH, acidity, sugar levels, specific gravity, etc. Just put your target value in the center, your known values for the two wines in the left corners, and do some subtraction to obtain the mixing ratios.

If your resulting ratios contain big numbers, feel free to lower them by a common divisor. For instance, if the ratios were 24 to 8, you could divide both sides by 8 and end up with a simpler ratio of 3:1.

If you intend on blending lots of wine and storing it for later use, you will want to make sure that the blend ages well. Some wines, when blended, taste great for a few days or even a couple of weeks; but over time you may notice that the taste "goes away" or "turns away". Our advice is to re-taste the wine about a week or so after the initial blend, and again after a few months, to make sure it is compatible for long storage times.

Here's a true blending story from Tom:
I had an interesting experience with a customer who drove miles to get to our location. He brought me a sample of some homemade Apple Spice Wine which had really picked up too much fresh cloves taste and smell.

Good wine, but too much! He reminded me of the fact in a previous issue of our newsletter that I had said there is no bad wine. So I had to do my magic with blending. I asked only that he and his wife be truthful with me.

So I started to blend his wine with another wine (Chablis) to start the blending process. After mixing little by little small portions at a time, I reached his palate; and after a couple more additions I then reached his wife's palate!

My advice: "Go get some Chablis and start blending." Needless to say, "THERE IS NO BAD WINE" . . . or my escape is you can always use it to cook with as the old Cajun does on TV!

Chablis makes a good blending wine for other whites as it is not too overpowering.

Finally, we found a link we'd like to share. Here's a link to a free winemaking calculator you can download from Michiel's winemaking site. This software helps you:

  • Calculate the amount of sugar that needs to be added to achieve a particular target SG or alcohol content in the finished wine.
  • Calculate the proportions, in which to blend two wines.
  • Convert various measurements between the Metric, US and Imperial systems.