Red wine blends mix things up for summer

MICHELLE LOCKE
The Associated Press
Modified: August 10, 2012 at 5:34 pm •  Published: August 10, 2012
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Red wine blends are having a red hot moment.

After years of being passed over for single-variety wines such as cabernet sauvignon and pinot noir, a new wave of blended red wines made in a crowd-pleaser style — and priced at a budget-friendly $9 to $12 a bottle — is winning favor with consumers.

"They're drinking the red blends," says Doug Bell, national wine and beer buyer for Whole Foods Market. The wines tend to be "kind of plush, very fruity, very smooth," and offer an alternative to consumers who want to try red wines but aren't looking for the traditional single-grape varieties.

Wines made from more than one red grape aren't new, of course. The classic Bordeaux blends from France generally are made from a blend of six grapes, with the predominant grapes being cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc and merlot. And even single-variety wines aren't necessarily pure. By law, they can contain up to 25 percent of a grape different from what's listed on the label.

The blends making news in the United States often incorporate the New World grape zinfandel, as well as syrah, which hails from France but has become more associated with the New World, especially Australia.

Red blends started getting trendy about two years ago, with brands such as Menage a Trois, made from three red grapes. Some popular blends at Whole Foods include Frey Agriculturist, a California wine that is a blend of carignan, merlot and syrah, and Innovac!on Shiraz Cabernet from Argentina along with Innovac!on Tempranillo-Malbec.

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