Ah, Merlot. . . As one of the primary grapes from France's Bordeaux wine region, this thin-skinned, blue-colored grape transforms into one of the most versatile and popular red wines on the market. Only Cabernet Sauvignon boasts more vines planted — not that it's a race or anything.
Merlot-based wines were first mentioned in 1784 when a Bordeaux official claimed that the wine was among the finest of its time, and we're inclined to agree. Despite being a first-class wine today, winemakers in the late 1700s considered Merlot a "secondary" grape best suited for blending instead of a standalone variety. Of course, all this changed as Merlot grew in popularity, which is great news. I mean, can you imagine a world where Merlot is considered subpar? We sure can't!
A soft finish, easy tannins and red fruits are characteristic of Merlot, making it an excellent choice for budding wine enthusiasts and seasoned tasters alike.
Differences Between Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon:
Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon are often compared given the fact they're the two most popular red wines in the world. Both come from the Bordeaux region and pair nicely with food, especially meat, but each boasts its own characteristics.
Historically, grapes grown on the left bank of the river were Cabernet, because growers felt the soil was better suited to the grape variety. As Cabernet became the dominant grape in the Bordeaux region, the "right bank" emerged as the place to grow Merlot. Today, you can walk into any wine shop and ask for left or right bank Bordeaux wines. Trust us — they'll know what you mean.
Cabernet Sauvignon is older with more aggressive tannins. When you taste it, the wine gives your mouth a drying sensation that's best paired with rich dishes. Merlot, on the other hand, is easy to drink thanks to its softer flavors. For someone new to wine tasting, Merlot is a good option.
Since Merlot is a versatile wine, you can pair it with almost anything at the lunch or dinner table. Its rich flavors and smooth textures are perfectly suited to meats and stewed dishes, particularly pork, chicken, lamb and mushrooms. Use Merlot to add earthy flavors to fish dishes or to tie together a cheese plate. You can also pair Merlot with chocolate. Or pizza. No judgments here!
How Do You Say Merlot?
Merlot is pronounced "Mare-low," although many English-speakers tend to pronounce it "Mer-low." Both pronunciations are acceptable, although the first is considered correct.