Merlot is a fine, rich wine originating in France, where it was once grown in the wealthiest of the Bordeaux vineyards. Today Merlot grapes are mainly grown in France, Italy and California.
Merlot wine is a fine dry wine that is rich in flavor and smooth on the palate. Merlot usually has a ripe berry flavor and tends to be soft, fruity and smooth in texture. It is also has a plum-like flavor. Some of the other common aromas and flavors typically found in Merlot wine include black cherry, coconut, currant and vanilla.
The Merlot is closely related to the Cabernet Sauvignon grape, but the Merlot skin is considerably thinner and it ripens earlier than the Cabernet. Today, Merlot is often blended with Cabernet Sauvignon to make it a smoother and more lush, full-bodied wine.
Merlot in Europe
Merlot is produced mainly in France and Italy. It is the third most-planted red grape in France and in Italy it is the fifth most-planted grape.
Merlot adds body and softness to the traditional Bordeaux wine blends. In Italy, the Merlot grape is often blended with other grapes to give the wine a smoothness similar to the Bordeaux blends.
Merlot Grapes grown in Italy give Merlot wine a very light flavor, making it an easy-to-drink wine. This is a perfect wine for the beginning wine drinker.
Merlot grapes grown in France and California tend to make more robust and heavier wines and are ideal for regular Merlot wine drinkers. Wines made from Merlot grapes are popular because of their rich-bodied flavor and because they are very compatible with a wide variety of foods.
Merlot in America
The Merlot grape was a relative latecomer to the Napa Valley, arriving in the early 1970s. Its flavor improved so much in the California soil that it became “the” red wine of the 1990s.
Unlike their European counterparts, California”s Merlot wines are not used just for blending. Californian Merlots have become an exceptional variety in their own right.
Merlot”s Names and Varieties
Merlot is also called Crabutet Noir or Merlot Noir, a testament to its deep, almost black color.
Some of the better-known Merlot varieties include the following:
- Marilyn Merlot is named after an enormously popular movie star, the late Marilyn Monroe. This wine is released every year on June 1st, Marilyn Monroe”s birthday. Marilyn Merlot is a blend of 90 percent Merlot and 10 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, which adds flavor and body to the mainly Merlot-based wine. It has a light, ripe, fruity flavor.
- Fusee Merlot is another fine wine. This wine is rich with a dried cherry flavor, and it has a hint of green peppers in the aroma. It is also laced with vanilla flavor.
- Danzante Merlot is a very dark red color with a deep and spicy berry flavor. Danzante merlots are described as having velvet-like layers of plum, berry and blueberry with a hint of dark chocolate, making these wines particularly inviting.
- Shante Merlot is another fine wine with a rich variety of berry flavors and a light spicy finish.
Merlot wine is quite versatile when it comes to food pairings. It goes well with a variety of foods such as poultry, red meats, pork, salads and grilled steak. It also complements several cheeses and tomato-based pasta sauces.