Wine Blending Class at Wiens Winery

By: dgcarticle

A warm reception from the Wiens family began our exhilarating wine blending class at Wiens Family Cellars yearly wine blending seminar. After a warm reception, the crowd of more than 30 attendees was ushered into the stunning barrel room. This pleasantly decorated room had 10 tables covered by white linen table cloths. Each table had four place settings, four mystery wine bottles marked A to D, a graduated cylinder (like you would find in a chemistry class), and several other tools for blending wine. To set the proper mood, all in attendance were poured a glass of Wiens exquisite wine and provided delicious hor doeuvres.

The course was lead by Doug The Palate Wiens, a winemaker, viticulturist, and one of the many Wiens family members in attendance. His 30-minute course was fashioned to prepare us for a contest, pitting table against table, as we devised our own blended wine which was to be tried by the Wiens family later that evening. During the course we found out that wine blending is a very common practice by wineries. It is used 1) to increase the quality of the wine in the matter of color, aroma, mouth feel and finish, 2) to enlarge the quantity of a harvest lot in order to achieve bottling economies of scale, and 3) for marketing considerations. Doug also revealed that as he blends wine and tastes the results, his math skills (critical for the blending process) become impaired as his philosophical skills improve. Interestingly, we were able to share this strange experience as the night went on.

Once Dougs course was concluded, the teams got to work. You could feel the testosterone as each team fought to refine their blends. Some teams had more fun than others as their bottles emptied quicker. It made me think of my younger son and his early experiments mixing various household items to see what would grow; even though my son had a fun time, he did not taste his creations (Thank goodness.). Some of our mixtures were not fit to be consumed either, but in the end, all 10 teams put forth their best mixtures with pride, wondering how large the royalties would build for their award winning creations.

These 10 blends were taken to another room to be tasted by the Wiens family. Fifteen minutes later, when the judges came back from their task, we were told the identities of the four wines we had blended: two were high quality Wiens Temecula wine and the other two required more time to mature. Being able to guess the weak from the strong wines really divided the novices from the connoisseurs in terms of wine palates. The connoisseurs congratulated themselves with their award winning blends, while the remainder of us took our damaged egos home with a better interpretation of what is thought to be good wine. Surprisingly, some of the winning teams were able to include large amounts of the less substantial wines into their blends–a important goal for professional wine blenders as they do not want to throw away a drop of the harvest.

After the winners were announced, we each sampled the winning wine blend. Most of us agreed with Rich Wild’s (one of the seminar attendees) observation that adding a small qualtity of a different wine to a blend can make a tremendous difference to the blend. Because of the enjoyment we had at the seminar, other attendees, like Su-Chun Huang, are planning on throwing wine blending contests of their own at their next dinner parties.

What truly caught my attention was the fact that so many of the Wiens family members attended the class. They wholeheartedly greeted each visitor as we came into the winery and supported each of us as if we were members of their family. This family oriented Temecula winery is reminiscent of an earlier time when the family and community took care of one another. The visitors loved having the family there and gave a lot of extra attention to Grandma Wiens. As Mike and Holly Lester said, Your help allows us to return home as wine Mix Masters. We all will return for the next event at the Wiens Winery. Well done Wiens family.

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