Why would someone blend the white grape Viognier with the red grape Syrah?

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Dear Dr. Vinny,

What is the big story behind winemakers using a blend of Shiraz and Viognier?

—Richard, Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

Dear Richard,

It’s no big story—the practice began because Viognier (a white wine grape) and Syrah (the red wine grape also known as Shiraz) grow alongside each other in the Côte-Rôtie region of the Northern Rhône Valley of France. Winemakers there may ferment the grapes together and are allowed under French law to blend up to 20 percent Viognier into their reds, though this is much less common now than it was back in the day.

The aromatic kick that Viognier brings to Syrah is popular in other countries as well. You mention Shiraz, which makes me think of Australia, where I’ve seen more and more bottles that are labeled Shiraz-Viognier. However, in Australia, a wine can be labeled simply “Shiraz” and have up to 15 percent of Viognier—or any other grape—blended into it.

—Dr. Vinny

France Rhône Valley Northern Rhône Côte-Rôtie Red Wines White Wines Syrah / Shiraz Viognier Ask Dr. Vinny

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