Wine: No blender required

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From the May 22, 2014 edition

It’s spring. The blurred line between winter and summer. Kind of like these wines.

This May, we’re talking blends. A couple of factors make blends (a combination of grapes/styles, as opposed to just one grape varietal) a smart choice for a savvy wine drinker — and the first is that they tend to be people pleasers.

Maybe your friends say they “only drink cabernet,” or they turn up their noses at certain grapes — merited or not. Maybe they’re a couple who don’t usually go for the same wine. Enter blends, which take the edge off any one grape by combining it with (compatible) others.

Another benefit is the cost. I’m generalizing here, but because blends don’t have to truly taste like one particular grape, winemakers can use less-superior grapes in combination with others to create a perfectly drinkable (or even award-winning) blend. And some of those blends, in turn, can cost less. Just sayin’.

Some blends disclose exactly what grapes make up what percentage of them. Some are just labeled “white/red blend” or, simply, “table wine.”

Up first: white blends.

This 2013 Pine Ridge chenin blanc + viognier ($12 at Weiland’s Market) is a cheerfully bright, acidic first sip. Peach and citrus fruit flavors take over from there, and the nose has a floral flavor. The slight sweetness went well with a mildly spicy fish dish.

The label lists the bottle as 80-percent chenin blanc, which is likely the source of the sweet flavors and floral scent. Viognier likely brings a bit more floral as well as peach flavors to the picture. Together, they’re happily married and easily sippable.

Photo by Meghan Ralston