Red blends are becoming more popular in the U.S., but blending itself is nothing new. Combining different grape varieties to make wine is not just commonplace in the European regions where wine was pioneered. It is in fact the norm.

Growing multiple grapes is simply more prudent than planting just one. Each grape has its own cycle, flowering and ripening its fruit at slightly different times, as well as its own strengths and weaknesses in terms of resistance to rot and disease. For much of wine history, making blended wines was not about controlling how the wine tastes, but rather a rudimentary form of crop insurance.

Blending is central to the red winemaking traditions of Portugal and Spain. Most of the grapes used are native to the Iberian Peninsula, as with this lightweight, unoaked red blend that offers just a hint of natural sweetness.

An ideal partner for foods whose sauces feature sugar and spice, it combines two top Portuguese grapes, touriga nacional and baga, with flavorful grapes of Spanish and French origin, alicante bouschet and syrah. Its name and label pay homage to the 15th century Portuguese explorers who established trade routes to Asia. But the terms “Silk & Spice” are also intended to convey flavor and mouthfeel, appropriate for a style that offers flavors of mocha, fig chutney. and blueberry pie.

Silk & Spice Red Blend Portugal, $10.99

13% alcohol; PLCB Item #2176

Sale price through Oct. 4 – regularly $12.99

Also available at:

Wine Warehouse in Clementon and Mantua, N.J. - $8.99

Total Wine & More in Cherry Hill, N.J. - $9.37

Total Wine & More in Claymont, Del. - $11.99