One of the most popular wines in the world, Merlot is a fantastic drink for any true wine lover. It has a wide range of flavours and depths, making it one of the most versatile wines for every occasion.
Join us as we take a deep dive into Merlot to find out what it is about this red wine that makes it so adored around the world.
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What Is Merlot Wine?
Merlot wine is a wine made from Merlot grapes. Diving somewhat deeper, the grapes are said to have taken their name after a Blackbird local to Bordeaux that was said to enjoy eating the ripe grapes off of the vine.
Merlot has taken to popularity for several reasons, but it was not until the 1990s that it really took to its own. There were some setbacks to its popularity in America, as shown by wine industry statistics, but it stayed a well-drunk wine worldwide. Known for its soft fruity profile, it’s considered a wine enjoyed by new wine drinkers and connoisseurs alike.
Where Is Merlot Wine From?
There are a few regions that currently grow the Merlot grape and, in turn, make this red wine. While some are more notable than others, all the regions on the below list are capable of producing a great bottle.
- France – France, and specifically Bordeaux, is often considered to be the home of the Merlot grape. The origins and exact placement can be discussed, but Bordeaux is considered home. It is no surprise that Merlot grapes thrive in this environment, as they are closely related to the Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese wine grapes.
- Italy – The similar climate and growing conditions to France make Italy another fantastic place for the Merlot grapes to thrive. While the whole of Italy is considered prime for wine grapes, the Tuscany region is a perfect match for the Merlot grape, as it is for many other wine grapes.
- USA – Specifically, California and Washington cater well to the Merlot grape’s preferred climate and growing conditions. Merlot from the USA has typically not been common for sale outside the USA but is becoming more and more common each year.
- Chile – Chile is another region where the climate favours the Merlot grape.
- China – Relatively new to the wine grape growing scene, China has started cultivating the Merlot grape to great success.
How Is Merlot Wine Made?
Merlot red wine is made in a similar process to other red wines. After picking the grapes, they are crushed to a pulp and allowed to ferment with some additional yeast. The coloured skin is what gives Merlot its colour and some flavours. The fermenting process is where the bulk of the “wine making” happens, this is where the sugars are converted into alcohol. After the initial fermenting process, the wine is pressed to remove all the pulp and solids from the juice. The squeeze is incredibly important to wine, as it dictates the tannin levels and the overall texture of the wine.
Once all the juices are extracted, the wine will go through its ageing process. Ageing will differ vastly between the particular wine and the wine producer, but this is where the malic acids will start to break down and form lactic acids.
When the final ageing is done, the final wine will go through a raking and filtration process to remove any remaining sediment before being bottled. This process is open to a lot of modification as different winemakers may not use yeast, have different ageing processes, different fermentation processes and different filtration processes. Not all Merlot red wine is made the same.
What Does Merlot Wine Taste Like?
The taste can vary considerably, depending on the specific grapes that were used. Merlot tends to pick up different flavour profiles in different regions of growth, allowing a fantastic range of flavours and depths to be had within Merlot.
For the majority with a good Merlot, the main flavour should relate to cherries or berries, mostly of the darker variety. The less pronounced flavour should be that of chocolate, vanilla or clove. That is the recipe for a standard good Merlot, but the variations can be amazing in their own right. Be sure to try a few of these wines to find the flavour profile that you most enjoy.
Is Merlot Sweet Or Dry?
Merlot is by nature a dry red wine. The sweet to dry spectrum for wine is not definite or extremes, some wines fall in-between having some sweet and some dry qualities. Merlot is mostly a dry wine but does present some sweet elements as well, more so than Cabernet Sauvignon at least.
Is Merlot Wine Strong?
Merlot is not a particularly strong wine in alcohol content or flavour. It has an average alcohol content of 13% to 15%, which is pretty average for a good quality red wine. When it comes to flavour, it packs a definite punch in terms of flavour production but is also softer and less harsh than other dry wines like the Cabernet Sauvignon. Merlot is a great dry wine for beginners and home enjoyers, all the way to the connoisseur.
How To Drink Merlot Wine
Merlot is often said best to be enjoyed at room temperature, this is a bit of a misconception as between countries and seasons, room temperature can differ vastly. For the best experience, chill the wine to 60-65 degrees Fahrenheit or 15-17 degrees Celsius.
What Food Does Merlot Wine Pair With
Merlot Red wine is regularly considered to be a jack of all trades when it comes to pairing options, however for the absolute best experience, there are 2 key pairings to take note of.
- Red meat – Merlot pairs incredibly well with red meat of all kind, specifically beef, lamb and pork.
- Smokey – Merlot pairs very nicely with anything with a smokey flavour. Having flame grilled being in the form of burgers or roasted lamb will be ideal, but this means that it can pair amazingly with mushrooms or chicken as well.
Is Merlot A Healthy Wine?
Merlot is rich in resveratrol antioxidants and has a low sugar content, making it a healthy wine for you to enjoy.
Is Merlot Wine Expensive?
Merlot is likely not the cheapest wine you will be able to find, and it would be a mistake to call it cheap in general. On the other hand, when compared to other dry wines like cabernet sauvignon,
Merlot comes across as a lot more affordable, making it cheap for the amazing wine that it is!