White blend wine is a white wine containing grapes from more than one varietal—Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc, for example. Blending allows wine-makers to choose the perfect fusion of grape characteristics, developing a unique flavor profile that the producer couldn’t achieve with single-varietal wine. White wine blends are less fêted than red blends, but many superb white blend wines deserve the attention of wine enthusiasts.
Some amount of blending is a standard part of the wine-making process: a winemaker might blend grapes from different terroirs or barrels to achieve the desired result. But in this article, we’re focusing on white blend wines that mix varietals.
The History of White Blend Wine
European vineyards have produced white wine blends for millennia. It was standard practice to collect a variety of grapes from vineyards in a region, blending them to attain the qualities and consistency the winemaker was looking for. The art of blending is known as coupage in France. This practice is still the norm in some regions. Bordeaux primarily produces blends, including white Bordeaux, also known as Bordeaux Blanc. Most Champagnes are blends too.
Winemakers choose to blend wines for several reasons. The primary motivation is to create a balanced and rounded final product. Blending is also used to produce wines that remain consistent across vintages.
It is not unusual for wines labeled with a single varietal to include a small proportion of wine from other grapes, even when this is not mentioned. For example, a bottle labeled Chardonnay may well contain other grape varietals. Some regions in the old and new worlds allow up to 25% of a varietal wine to originate from different grapes, although the permissible quantity varies between regions and appellations.
White wine blends can be oaked and unoaked, and some blends combine the two. Oak-aged white wine blends have more vanilla, honey, and cream flavors. Unoaked blends tend to foreground fruit flavors and have a crisper, lighter flavor profile.
Grape Varietals Used in White Wine Blends
A wide variety of white grape varieties are used to make white wine blends. Among the most frequently used are:
- Sauvignon Blanc
- Sauvignon gris
- Ugni blanc
- Merlot blanc
Where Do White Blend Wines Originate?
White wine blends are produced worldwide, and most wine-growing regions will make at least a few white blends. We’ve mentioned Bordeaux already, and other areas of France also produce excellent white blends, including the Rhone Valley in the south of France. Rhone Valley white blends—the most famous of which is Châteauneuf-du-Pape—blend white grapes that include Viognier, Ugni Blanc, Clairette, and Rousanne.
Italian regions that produce high-quality white blend wines include Campania, Calabria, Umbria, and Tuscany. Our survey of old-world white blending regions wouldn’t be complete without Spanish white Rioja. White wine blends from Rioja use combinations of the seven permitted white grapes, including Malvasia and Viura.
Looking beyond the old world, you will find many excellent Californian white blends, often inspired by Southern Rhone and Bordeaux blends. Other regions famed for white blend wines include Australia, South America, and South Africa.
Food Pairings For White Blend Wines
White blends are typically light-bodied and low in tannins, making them the ideal pairing for lighter foods, including white meats, seafood, fish, and salads. Oaked white blend wines can be paired with creamy sauces, while unoaked varieties enhance and complement salty fish dishes. As a rule, white wine blends are not well suited to accompany red meats or dishes with rich and heavy sauces.
The Best White Blend Wines
There are so many high-quality white wine blends it is challenging to choose just a handful to highlight here. However, you will not be disappointed by the outstanding Laville Pavillon Bordeaux Blanc and Famille Perrin Réserve Côtes du Rhône Blanc. If you’d prefer a Californian white wine blend, why not try 2020 Conundrum White Blend or Farmhouse California White.