But I WILL drink Merlot because it's damn good and I won't let a movie from 20 years ago continue to kill the grape. My most recent post on the 'gram showed a really nice bottle I recently enjoyed and it struck me that there might need to be some refreshers on how important this variety is. I mean, it's the main grape for Right Bank Bordeauxs and is one of the most planted grapes in the world so it has to be good, right?
Here are some key characteristics and information about Merlot:
Flavor Profile: Merlot wines tend to have flavors of ripe fruits such as plum, cherry, and raspberry. They can also exhibit notes of chocolate, vanilla, and even a hint of green herbs, depending on the growing conditions and winemaking techniques.
Texture and Tannins: Merlot wines are often described as having a velvety texture with softer tannins compared to more tannic red wines like Cabernet Sauvignon. This characteristic makes Merlot wines generally more approachable and suitable for earlier consumption.
Blending: Merlot is often used in blends, particularly in Bordeaux-style blends. It adds softness and roundness to the wines, balancing the more robust and tannic characteristics of grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon.
Regions: While Merlot originated in the Bordeaux region of France, it is now grown in many wine-producing regions around the world. In addition to Bordeaux, notable regions for Merlot production include California (especially in Napa Valley and Sonoma), Italy (particularly in Tuscany), Chile, and Argentina.
Aging: While some Merlot wines can be enjoyed young for their fruit-forward characteristics, higher-quality Merlots can also benefit from aging. Aging can add complexity to the wine, allowing secondary flavors to develop.
Food Pairing: Due to its relatively softer tannins and approachable nature, Merlot pairs well with a variety of foods. It can be a good match for dishes like roasted meats, grilled vegetables, pasta with tomato-based sauces, and cheeses.
Climate Sensitivity: Merlot is sensitive to climate and growing conditions. It can express different characteristics depending on factors such as temperature, soil type, and altitude. Warmer climates can lead to riper fruit flavors, while cooler climates might produce more herbal and earthy notes.
Popularity: Merlot gained popularity in the 1990s but faced a backlash due to overproduction and some low-quality examples on the market. However, quality-focused producers have helped to rehabilitate its reputation and I am here for it!
Remember that wine characteristics can vary widely based on the specific winery, region, and vintage. If you're interested in trying Merlot wines, it's a good idea to explore a variety of options to get a sense of its diverse expressions. Maybe I'm seeing a Merlot tasting in my future???
Your friend in wine,