ask dr. vinny

Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, or "Vinny" for short. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the technical aspects of winemaking to the fine points of etiquette. I hope you find my answers educational and even amusing. Looking for a particular answer? Check my archive and my FAQs. You can also follow me on Twitter: @AskDrVinny.


Dear Dr. Vinny,

Am I mistaken, or is Pinot Noir rarely if ever used in red blends? I am not a big Pinot drinker, so I am sure there are exceptions, but in the multitudes of wine offerings I come across, I don’t recall seeing a Syrah/Pinot Noir blend, for example. Am I way off base here?

—K.C., Chicago

Dear K.C.,

You are (deliciously) mistaken in one respect, as Pinot Noir is one of the three main grapes used in Champagne production, along with Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier. That means—luckily for us—that Pinot Noir is regularly blended in sparkling wines.

You’re correct that it’s more of a rarity to see Pinot Noir blended in still wines. If anything, I’ve heard of a touch of Syrah or other heavier red wine grapes blended into Pinot Noir to give it more intensity. But Pinot Noir’s supple texture, sense of place and wonderful balance don’t generally lend themselves to blending, and neither do its relatively high cost and difficulty of cultivation.

—Dr. Vinny


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