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Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

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blending, different batches of wine, or coupage as it is known in French, is a practice that was once more distrusted than understood. In fact almost all of the world’s finest wines are made by blending the contents of different vats and different barrels (see assemblage); champagne and sherry are examples of wines which are quintessentially blends. It is often the case, as has been proved by the most rigorous of experiments, that a wine blend is superior to any one of its component parts.

Blending earned its dubious reputation before the mid 20th century when wine laws were either non-existent or under-enforced, and ‘stretching’ a superior wine by blending it with inferior wines was commonplace (see adulteration). Blending of different lots of the same wine as it is commonly practised today to ensure that quality is maximal and consistent was not possible before the days of large blending vats; before then wine was bottled from individual casks or vats, which is one explanation of the much higher degree of bottle variation in older vintages.