Wine: Ready for anything

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From the May 29, 2014 edition

You really can’t go wrong with blends.

By combining different flavors (and taking the “edge” off some in the process), blends turn most any wine into a total people-pleaser. Plus, they’re just fun to try.

In our pursuit of exploring wine blends, we turn to reds. As with whites, the combinations have to be well planned so the flavors are complementary, not conflicting. Varietals commonly found in red blends span the spectrum, but merlot, cabernet sauvignon, syrah and zinfandel are regulars.

Try one with something like sangiovese or mourvedre, and you’ll get acquainted with something new while making the introduction a smooth one. (Better yet, have a bottle with 100 percent of that new-to-you varietal at the same time if possible, and taste both to compare.)

Almost every wine-producing country releases a blend, but some do more than others. And while labeling the percentage of each wine in the mix is common, you’re just as likely to find a “red wine blend” or “red table wine” among them.

This red blend combines two fairly common varietals: shiraz and cabernet. The 2011 Inkberry ($13 at Weiland’s Market) hails from Australia and packs the punch of a seasoned traveler, too. It’s robust on the nose and tastes strongly of tannins, with a berry-flavored fruit profile following not far behind. Reinforcing that impression is the breakdown — 60-percent shiraz, 40-percent cabernet.

With that full-bodied, dry flavor in mind, I’d choose a bold cheese, seasoned steak or coffee-rubbed bacon burger with barbecue sauce to pair up with this bottle.

Photo by Meghan Ralston