Merlot (Mehr-low) is a red wine with deep red color (almost purple) and tastes like a softer, less tannic version of Cabernet Sauvignon. Like Cab, it’s often used in Red Blends and is grown in countries around the world. More notable regions are Napa Valley and Sonoma County (California), Australia, Chile, France, and Hungary. Cooler climates have flavors of strawberries, plums, cedar, leather, mushrooms, and tobacco. Medium climates have the taste of blackberries, black cherries, and black plums. Hot climates get a little richer flavors like fruitcake, caramel, coffee beans, smoke, walnuts, or chocolate.
Ranges from lighter purple to a deep, dark, purplish red.

Flavors and Aromas

New World Merlots are usually nicely fruit-forward—their plum flavors and soft, velvety textures make these wines an easy-drinking, much-loved sip. You might also find some oak, vanilla, and spice as you swirl and savor. French and Italian Merlots generally show a little more earthiness and bite.

Pairing with Food

Merlot’s middle-of-the-road character makes it a comfortable choice when entertaining, and it can be enjoyed with a wide range of foods, including pork, turkey, burgers, and veggie dishes. Then again, the smooth texture also makes it easy to enjoy on its own.

  • Because of all of the different possible flavor combinations that climate can affect, Merlot is another extremely friendly food pairing wine. You can bring out those tomato -based sauces again with rich Italian flavors, or you can open a can of Spaghetti-O’s and still be just as satisfied (well, with the wine at least).
  • Lighter styles (cooler-medium climates) pair with pizza, pasta with tomato sauces and bacon or mushrooms or grilled chicken with grilled veggies (zucchini, peppers, eggplant).
  • Fuller bodied (hot climates) Merlot’s pair well with caramelized or roasted veggies, grilled pork/lamb/veal chops with herbs (thyme and rosemary), steak, roasted chicken or turkey, and roast beef or lamb.

Things to Avoid

  • Fish
  • Leafy Greens
  • Spicy Foods
  • Indian or Hispanic Foods

Fun Facts

  • Merlot is the 2nd most planted wine grape in the world (it’s half sibling, Cab Sauv, is number 1).
  • The word Merlot translates to “young blackbird” as the grapes are a deep purple, almost black color.
  • Merlot Day is November 7th!