Manzano Sweet Red Wine
New Mexico represents some of the most exciting and successful high-elevation vineyards in the country—many of their best are above 4,000 feet.
New Mexico’s modern wine industry is based on traditional European varieties and claims over 30 successful wineries throughout the state. In fact, New Mexico and Texas were the first US states to produce wine from the Vitis vinifera species, beginning around 1626. They made wine with the Mission grape, which was also prolific among California missionaries.
Today New Mexico produces good reds, whites and can attest to the value of high elevation vineyards, especially with the success of its sparkling wines. In fact the New Mexico sparkling wine producer, Gruet, boasts some of the strongest nationwide distribution among smaller-producing states.
With hundreds of red grape varieties to choose from, winemakers have the freedom to create a virtually endless assortment of blended wines. In many European regions, strict laws are in place determining the set of varieties that may be used, but in the New World, experimentation is permitted and encouraged. Blending can be utilized to enhance balance or create complexity, lending different layers of flavors and aromas. For example, a variety that creates a fruity and full-bodied wine would do well combined with one that is naturally high in acidity and tannins. Sometimes small amounts of a particular variety are added to boost color or aromatics. Blending can take place before or after fermentation, with the latter, more popular option giving more control to the winemaker over the final qualities of the wine.