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Blending Wine

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Right about now is the time that most home winemakers begin to open bottles of wine made last year. Will it taste good, average or excellent? If it is just average, could I added something to it to make it better? What if I mix a little blueberry wine with the concord wine? A thinned bodied, with a full bodied? These are just some of the questions you run into whenever you decide to blend your wines.

Blending wines is a combination of math and art. You can calculate how much of each wine to blend by using the Pearson Square or you can can do it the artsy way. Personally, I prefer the artsy way, that is taking a little of wine A and mix it with a little of wine B until I get the taste I am looking for. Let me give you an example. I made a concord wine from grapes in 2004 that had great taste by was very thinned bodied. I made a blueberry wine from canned blueberries in early 2005 that was more full bodied. So, I said to myself "What if I blend these two wines?" I started out with 2 small glasses, filled one with blueberry and one with concord and then pour the 2 glasses into a larger glass. Then the fun part, tasting the blend. It was better, but not good enough. So then it was 3 glasses, first 2 blueberry and then 1 concord. The mixing continued until I found the taste I was looking for, which I believe was 1 blueberry to 2 concord.

For you math types, here is the Pearson Square. This example was taken from Grapestompers website.

The easiest way to illustrate how the Pearson Square works is to do an example....

For our illustration, let's say we are blending because we would like to lower the level of alcohol in our wine. We have some Merlot that is 15% alcohol, and we would like to blend it with another wine so we end up with a target alcohol of 12%. The other wine's alcoholic content is 11%.

Let's begin by showing you what the Pearson Square looks like. See the figure below:

Pearson Square

The center of the square, shown by the letter "C", represents the "target" value we want to blend for (in this case, we want to obtain a wine of 12% alcohol).

The upper left corner, shown by the letter "A", represents the known alcohol percentage of wine #1 (Our Merlot, which is 15%).

The lower left corner, shown by the letter "D", represents the known alcohol percentage of wine #2 (another Merlot, which is 11%)

To use the Pearson Square, we merely substitute numbers for the letters in the diagram, and then do some simple subtraction. We find the difference between the values in the corner and the center "target" value, and place the answer in the opposite corners. This value is always the absolute value (no negative numbers allowed!) of the difference.... so, for our example:

15 minus 12 equals 3, and
12 minus 11 equals 1

Here's what the Pearson Square looks like now:

Pearson Square - Example calculations

Voila! As you can see, we need 3 parts of the 11% wine to mix with 1 part of the 15% wine, and we will end up with our "target" wine of 12%. Pretty neat, huh?

There are other things to consider when blending wines. Such as, not blending a bad wine with a good wine, balancing tannins etc. The following links make great reads for exploring more about blending.

Blending Wines: Grapestompers

Blending Batches - Tips from the Pros: Winemaker Magazine

Blending to Improve Wines: Winemaker Magazine



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