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About blending and balance

People have talked about balancing work and play for generations. ‘All work and no play make Johnny a dull boy’ so it goes. It is extremely difficult to navigate that type of balance in the wine grape growing/winemaking business. It takes so much effort to actually make something happen in vineyards and inside wineries, plus following through in either theatre requires patience, tenacity and high tolerance to repetition in most tasks. Fortunately, there is a seasonality to this business which should allow some slow time if one is either growing grapes or only making wine. Those that are doing both first-hand are tethered to their work very closely, with little time to themselves.

I talk about balance [in wine] a lot. My favorite definition is that opposing forces are present in equivalent prominence. I consider the fundamental axis of balance in wine as ‘angles and rounds.’ ‘Angles’ are the harsh, pointy things like acidity and tannins. ‘Rounds’ are the softer, plush, sweet and/or textural parts such as Glycerol (a polyol formed in proportion to alcohol) and sugar if present in the wine style [not mine, but many like German Riesling appropriately rely upon this]. One first gets that foundation balanced, and then builds upon it looking at other subordinate axes of balance such as Fruit vs Non-fruit. Then one goes on to the next levels where each side of that balancing act, types of fruit (red/lighter vs. black/darker) and types of non-fruit (barrel vs. savory/earthy). Just as the head of a company might have the ability to assemble a committee of balanced personalities and skillsets to run a business, so can the winemaker with blending for balance. To envision and then blend appropriate personalities that balance each other’s strengths is an art form that is common to multiple arenas.

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