Merlot is loved because of its boisterous black cherry flavors, supple tannins, and chocolate finish. On the high end, it’s often mistaken with Cabernet Sauvignon and commonly blended with it.
Merlot is a great wine to play with, as it matches with a wide variety of foods. Don’t be afraid to experiment!
For Tuesday night, easy drinking, entry-level Merlot: think pizza, bbq chicken or a penne boscaiola situation (think tomato sauce, creamy, bacony, mushroomy goodness). Keep it simple, easy meals work with easy wines.
For a Merlot-dominant blend (such as entry-level Bordeaux) that has earthy notes, as well as ripeness, think: roast turkey, beef short rib, or a rustic ratatouille! For braised meat pairings, try complementing Merlot’s boisterous fruit notes with chimichurri sauce.
Finally, for those full and lush new world styles, think rack of lamb, roast veal, or filet mignon with peppercorn red wine sauce.
Fun Facts About Merlot Wine
- Merlot is the child of Cabernet Franc and the rare Magdeleine Noire des Charentes. This makes Merlot a sibling of Cabernet Sauvignon!
- Merlot is the most planted wine grape in Bordeaux, France. It grows in the same climates as Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot
- Merlot wine can be easily confused in a blind-tasting. That being said, let blue fruit flavors, softer tannin than Cabernet, and maybe a sultry mocha or chocolate note be your tell!
- The name “Merlot” roughly translates to little blackbird; possibly due to dark blue/black coloring, or those pesky little blackbirds that eat the grapes.
- The first time Merlot was ever mentioned was in 1783. They spelled it Merlau and said, “makes a black and excellent wine, productive in good soil.”
- The most expensive Merlot was sold at auction in 2011. a case of 1961 Pétrus went for a cool $144,000 USD – That’s $12,000 a bottle!
What To Expect in Merlot Wine
Tasting Warm Climate Merlot
From warmer climates, Merlot wine tends to be more fruity with refined, pin-cushion tannins. Because of the boldness of these wines, you’ll often find they age in oak which adds vanilla, chocolate, and smoky cedar notes.
Tasting Cool Climate Merlot
These will be more structured, with earthy flavors. Cool climate Merlot is often mixed up with Cabernet Sauvignon when being tasted blind.