By Shondra Savadkohi
If only school were this enjoyable. The Art of Blending seminar, held at Scheid Vineyards’ Tasting Room last month in Carmel, was an opportunity for guests to try their hand at creating their own signature blend.
California wineries are known for producing wine by the varietal, or type of grape, like Pinot Noir or Chardonnay. But wineries often make blends as well—their own custom melody of varietals. The idea is to mix separate wines and come up with a new and unique wine with its own flavor profile.
Scheid winemakers Marta Kraftzeck and Vincent Catalaa hosted the after-hours seminar. The attendees were a fun and eclectic gathering of people, some new to the Carmel area, others Scheid Wine Club members for as long as 10 years. There were new wine fans and people with an extensive wine collection at home.
Four tables of guests were supplied with six varietals of wine, beakers, and wine-blending gear. All six wines were crafted from Scheid Vineyards’ Monterey County grapes. The goal was for guests to create their own fusion of wine, then vote for a favorite. And yes, there were prizes for the winners.
Wine is a great common denominator. It’s natural for people to open up when they have similar interests like music, cycling, or a book club. People who enjoy wine automatically have something in common. The Scheid wine seminar was no exception.
Guests introduced themselves. Then they started tasting each varietal. Next came the combining, and spilling, of wines. Then more tasting, as table-mates shared their concoctions with each other and chose favorite wines. An eye-catching name was a must! Names flew across the tables as tasters tried to summarize their wines. Alliances quickly formed as judging began. Shouts and enthusiasm grew as the wine took hold of tasters and people cheered for their favorite wine.
Blending wine is not as easy at it looks. It’s a bit like sports fans watching a game and telling the athletes what play they should have done. Well, easier said than done. Blending wine is part gut, part whimsy, and part math.
These were the wines that Scheid provided for us to blend:
- 2017 Pinot Noir. This was a dark, gorgeous rose color, with softer tannins and floral hints on the nose. Light oak, vanilla, and red berry please the palate.
- 2017 Zinfandel. This provided pleasing flavors of dark cherry, slate, fennel, and soft spice.
- 2017 Merlot. A merging of flavors of dark fruit, hints of very ripe strawberry, and soft tannins.
- 2017 Petit Verdot. This full bodied wine offers notes of soft floral, herb, and blackberry, and is very tannic.
- 2017 Petite Sirah. Intense, velvety dark purple color greets the eye. Flavors of blackberry, blueberry, and soft pepper support this tart, acidic, and tannic varietal.
- 2017 Late Harvest Riesling. This was the only white wine of the group. It was sweet but not jammy. Elegant orange blossom aromas combine with flavors of stone fruit.
Our table’s blend was called “Cashmere.” One guest at our table came up with a medley of Petit Verdot, Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, and Pinot Noir. Her mixture offered soft tannins, good acidity, a hint of sweetness, with just enough boldness to make it a great everyday wine and a crowd-pleaser.
If you ever decide to attend a blending class:
- You’ll end up sipping wine for an hour or two, and all those little sips of alcohol add up.
- Bring a spit cup. I like to bring along an eight-ounce paper coffee cup. It’s easy and discreet to sip, taste, and spit along the way.
- Be sure to eat. Tank up on some food before, or walk/ Uber to dinner afterward.
The best part of a blending seminar is that there’s no wrong combination. The idea is to explore the notes, palate, and texture of wines. Guests made a wide spectrum of flavor profiles; some sweet, some tannic, while others supplied a gentle balance. Winery events and tasting rooms can offer an appealing setting for discovering new wines and flavors. Go on your own, make it a date, or gift a friend. But there’s always an element of surprise and discovery with wine.
To find other seminars and events hosted by Scheid, see www.scheidvineyards.com/Events-Calendar.
Shondra Savadkohi blogs about wine at calwinejaunt.com.