Check out the new, mobile-friendly WineSpectator.com!
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,
In the Douro, several varietals are often planted in the same vineyard and vinified together in a "field blend." Does that mean wine made from that vineyard has the same percentage of each varietal every year, or is the winemaker able to vary it by separating grapes by varietal at harvest?
—Fred, La Cañada, Calif.
You have the basics down of what makes a field blend: more than one grape variety planted together in the same vineyard. Field blends happen all over the world, though they're now rare. In the past, before folks fretted about varietals or clones, they just planted different grapes in their vineyard as an inexpensive (yet limiting) way to blend wines. All the grapes are harvested at the same time and fermented together—a true field blend doesn't separate by varietals at harvest; the "blend" is whatever Nature gives that vintage.
Modern winemakers generally prefer to plant and pick each variety separately, knowing that they don't always ripen evenly. Sometimes a winemaker will ferment multiple grapes together (a practice called co-fermentation), which invokes the spirit of field blends. But most winemakers blend different lots of wine together after the fermentation is finished to better control the process.
Do you have a question for Dr. Vinny? Ask it here...
Learn to taste wine like a pro, pull a cork with flair, get great wine service in a restaurant and more
Learn from the experts and get the most out of each sip. Take one of our online courses or take them all—from the ABCs of Tasting to in-depth seminars on Food Pairing, California Cabernet, Bordeaux, Tuscany, Sensory Evaluation and more.
Passionate about wine? Wine Spectator magazine is looking for an enthusiastic copy editor in the New York office.
Sips & Tips | Wine & Healthy Living
Video Theater | Collecting & Auctions
New! Ratings Flash | New! Unfiltered