While we labor to breathe amidst the smoke from the west coast-enshrouding fires, through our COVID-19 masks no less, this seems a perfect time for a nice glass of wine and some comfort food. This month’s recipe had me at “Spicy Steak,” but when I realized it included the slightly sweet and tender element of Broccolini against the backdrop of some pungent ginger, and then I threw in a balanced and complex Blended Red Wine, I came to understand that I might just be able to survive 2020.
A group of wines that has been regaining popularity of late is the category of blended wines. These have historically been a very widely produced, and globally appreciated, style of wines. Indeed, there is such a wide range of blended wines that it is difficult to describe them as a single group. There are red, white, orange and pink versions of blended wines and some very intriguing combinations between those broader categories.
A “Blended Wine” is one which is a composition of more than one type of grape. While the trend in our domestic fine wine industry over the last few decades has been to name a single grape varietal on the label, the practice of blending grapes has been very successfully used around the world for centuries. Many of the most famous and prized wines in the world are, indeed, blended. Champagne is generally made with Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier grapes. White Bordeaux utilizes Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Muscadelle. Chianti is mostly Sangiovese but can have up to 30 percent of other grapes. Even the world famous “Napa Cab” wines need only have 75 percent of Cabernet Sauvignon, and often have a few other varietals blended in. This blending of varied components allows vintners to add depth and complexity to some wines, while sometimes overcoming flaws or shortcomings in others.
A nice local Red Wine Blend can offer all of the right enhancements to our spicy steak and broccolini recipe. We’ll want a wine with enough structure to stand up to the seared beef tenderloin and garlic, while displaying adequate acidity to counter the sweetness from the sautéed vegetables and ample fruit to brighten the soy and spicy layers. A Zinfandel or GSM (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre) type of blend should fill the bill quite nicely. Several Sonoma County offerings are at the pinnacle of quality in this category, and with the smoke taint and pandemic challenges that our local industry is currently suffering from, every local bottle that you buy will be greatly appreciated and may actually help to keep your neighbors employed and our beautiful landscapes intact. Please, please, buy local now. Thank you.
Jeff James is the founder and co-owner, with his wife Judy, of Stony Point Vineyard and James Family Cellars. Their Cotati vineyard and winery have consistently produced award-winning wines. Jeff can be reached at info@JamesFamilyCellars.com or 707-548-2294. Visit their website at www.JamesFamilyCellars.com