To some extent Blaufränkisch shares some traits with Gamay, with which it has sometimes been confused. Both make a light, quaffable, and undistinguished red when treated indifferently, but can make complex, ageable wines when handled with more care. A Blaufrankisch wine is typically medium-bodied, with a strong, food-friendly acidic spine and sometimes rustic tannins. The nose tends toward cherries and berries, with strong supporting aromas of smoke, spice and black pepper than can turn toward a pronounced gaminess on occasion. In Austria the trend of late has been to wrap it all up with some new French Oak, smoothing out the wine’s mouthfeel, and, in the best examples, rounding out those spicy characteristics into a pipe tobacco and chocolate mélange.

Blaufränkisch works well at the table, especially with game; think duck, venison, or lamb. It also complements simple fare like hamburgers, and the less tannic renditions go well with barbecue. Pastas are not out of the question, either; the acidity is there to cut rich, creamy sauces or balance with tomato sauces.

Blaufränkisch is produced in two California wineries, Ritchie Creek Vineyard in Napa and Wild Horse Winery & Vineyards in Paso Robles

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