These are the 14 most important wine blends to know, and why they matter

Wednesday, 22 May, 2024
Food and Wine, Vicki Denig
Some of the world's most iconic wines are blends of multiple grapes, but the story goes deeper than that. Here's what to expect from each.

Every bottle of wine falls into one of two categories: varietal or blended. In a varietal bottle, only one grape variety is used to make the wine, whereas blends incorporate two or more different grape varieties. Certain regions and appellations are synonymous with varietal wines — think Burgundy’s famed Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, how Barolo became synonymous with Nebbiolo, and Brunello di Montalcino’s relationship with Sangiovese. However, other regions, like Bordeaux and the Côtes du Rhône, find their claim to fame in the art of crafting the perfect blend.

A winemaker using multiple varieties in a blend is like a chef reaching for various spices or ingredients in the kitchen. Each variety (or ingredient) brings something specific to the recipe, like acid, tannins, structure, or fruit forwardness. It’s ultimately the winemaker’s unique style that will dictate the flavor profile.

It’s important to note that varietal wines aren’t innately better than blends, or vice-versa — some of the world’s most renowned wines can be found in either style. Looking to dive deeper into the world of blended wines? Here are some of the world’s most famous wine blends.

Bordeaux (Red)

Bordeaux is arguably the most popular region for blended wines in the world. Though there are 13 permitted grape varieties that can be used in a Bordeaux blend, the most common for red blends are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot.

The composition of these blends is often talked about in terms of which side of the Dordogne and Garonne rivers they’re produced on. Wines from the Left Bank of Bordeaux are most often dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon, whereas blends crafted on the region’s Right Bank are based on Merlot. While there are always exceptions to these blends — and even some varietal wines peppered in there — this is still the most common breakdown of the region’s highly regarded wines.

Bordeaux Blanc

In addition to its iconic red wines, white wines from Bordeaux (frequently referred to as Bordeaux Blanc) are held in equally high regard. The most common white Bordeaux blends tend to be composed of Sémillon and Sauvignon Blanc, with small amounts of Muscadelle, Colombard, and/or Ugni Blanc also permitted.


Although several popular varietal wines exist in Champagne (specifically Blanc de Blancs and Blanc de Noirs), most non-vintage blends are crafted from the region’s trio of signature grape varieties: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier. While some estates use nearly equal parts of the three varieties, the specific percentages are ultimately decided upon by each winemaker.

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