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September 13, 2006

Wine Hacking at Home

How to play with your Wine

One of the secrets of making truly kick ass wine is blending. The concept of blending is no different than making soup or a sauce. A pinch of this, a knob of butter, a sprig of tarragon, a few turns of the salt mill and voila.

BTW, I don’t wish to upset anyone, but your Cabernet from California can have 25% of anything else in it (Including Chilean, Romanian, etc. wine) Your Long Island Merlot can legally have a surprising percentage of Californian gear in it (and many do). Call it heresy or just a little dirty winemaking secret? But, in most countries a varietally labeled wine can have at least 15% other varietal wines in it. Wine makers generally use this variance to improve their wines, not to cheat.

Similarly, more conventional blending is what makes Bordeaux great. It is intuitive that mixing up the flavours of say, merlot, cabernet and Petit verdot, would yield a wine more interesting than just one of these single varieties on its own.

Yes, our Pinotage has about 15% Shiraz in it and our Sauvignon Blanc normally has 10% Semillon. We think that the wine tastes better for it.

So, Why not try it at home?

When I am pulling corks or unscrewing caps at home, I treat the wines the same way that I do with barrels in the winery. We are trying new wines all of the time and often I am happy with what comes straight out of the bottle. But sometimes, I say… well, I could have done a better job myself.

Recently, I had a Matua New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc open and completely coincidently, a really nice aromatic Nepenthe (Australian) Adelaide Hills Riesling from on the table. The SB was a bit too green and fat, the Riesling was really, really lean but had amazing ripe Riesling aromas. A bit of judicious blending in the glass yielded an amazing wine, The wines together (I can’t remember the proportions) resulted in bright, rich, ripe and intensely aromatic wines from two wines that I would have thought would have made a diabolical combination.

You can do it with cabernets, shiraz or anything else. I’ve blended up lean, low fruit reds with a dash of really good Crème de Cassis. The result is amazing. A pinch of sugar in a too-lean wine, can make it far more palatable.

Mom always warned: “Don’t play with your food.” But, she never said not to play with your wine.

Do try it at home.

So, while you are hacking your Ipod or mashing up your newest favorite apps, try some wine hacking at home.. the buzz is even bigger.

Posted by Jason at September 13, 2006 10:28 AM

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