We see you there, wandering through your neighborhood wine shop, searching for something different to pair with dinner tonight, something refreshing and unique. You’ve had your fill of rosé, and you can’t face another Sauvignon-Blanc-and-summer-salad scenario. How about trying something unexpected, something light and elegant—like a Vinho Verde blend? Vinho Verde blends are expertly crafted from native grapes from northern Portugal. It’s the mix of aromas and flavors from a combination of grape varieties, granitic soils and microclimates that gives Vinho Verde wines their famous crisp and aromatic characteristics. With low alcohol content and a refreshing, almost fizzy zing, the collection is an ideal choice for summer meals and enjoying on its own.
Blended wine is the best way for vintners to create brand new and unexpected flavors using the season’s best grapes. By combining different grape varieties, winemakers can turn up the volume on a wine’s best characteristics or diminish any weak spots. They can add a note of citrus to the aroma or balance the freshness by adding or subtracting varieties. The point of blending is to highlight each grape’s strength and mellow its weakness. Think of it as adding coffee to chocolate cake batter. You can’t really taste the coffee, but the subtle flavor amplifies the richness of the chocolate.
For example, a winemaker in Portugal’s sub-region of Ave works mostly in vineyards at lower altitudes with steady temperature ranges. To highlight the grapes grown here, a vintner might bring Trajadura (a variety that ripens early) into the blend to add smoothness. As the grapes are being harvested, Vinho Verde’s winemakers work like artists to determine what they think will be the best formula for a blend. Allotting specific tanks for blending allows them to experiment with different percentages of grapes and flavor combinations. Since each season produces different grapes due to weather and soil variations, blends can taste different from year to year. However, a master blender can also ensure that the wines are consistent in style from year to year.
Both red and white wines can be made from blends of varietals. If you’re hesitant to try a blend, you should know that most of the wines you think are from a single type of grape actually aren’t. Wine from the Vinho Verde Region is required to contain 85% of the grape variety printed on the label (although Alvarinho must be 100%), and in the United States, only 75% of the wine is required to be the grape variety listed on the label.
So, go ahead. Try something different and pick up a Vinho Verde blend this summer. You’ll probably love it so much that you’ll start blending all sorts of things in your life. Just take our advice and don’t blend summer sun and bare skin without adding SPF. We recommend a few blends to get you started: Muralhas de Monção, Casa de Vilacetinho Grande Escolha, Aveleda and Quinta de Azevedo.