Often a stepping stone into the red wine world, Merlot is a fantastic grape to enjoy anytime and pairs easily with foods.
After Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot is the second most popular red grape in America . Merlot is a dark blue-colored wine grape variety, that is used as both a blending grape and for varietal wines. The name Merlot is thought to be a diminutive of merle, the French name for the blackbird, probably a reference to the color of the grape. Its softness, “fleshiness”, and elegance makes Merlot an easy drinking red whether combined with food or sipping solo. Merlot is also a great choice for someone new to red wines. Merlot grapes first arrived in California in the mid-nineteenth century, and American winemakers began making wines using 100% Merlot! The grape grew easily here and Americans really loved the softness of the fruit on its own, and its expected that they enjoyed its low tannin levels as well.
Merlot Pairing Do’s and Dont’s:
Merlot wine matches with a wide variety of foods because of its position in the middle of the red wine spectrum. In general Merlot pairs well with chicken and other light meats as well as lightly-spiced dark meats. With medium tannin and not too much acidity you’ll find Merlot pairs well with many foods. Merlot doesn’t pair well with fish or leafy green vegetables unless they are braised or cooked a certain way. Also, spicy food will most likely overwhelm Merlot’s nuanced flavors.
Merlot is a varietal that contains at least 13.5% alcohol, but can approach 14.5%, especially when it is grown in a warmer climate. Cool climate Merlot is more structured with a higher presence of tannins and earthy flavors like tobacco and tar. Some cool climate Merlot are mistaken as Cabernet Sauvignon. Regions include France, Italy and Chile. Warm climate Merlot wine is more fruit-forward and tannin is less prevalent. Some producers use judicious oak-treatment of up to 24 months to give their Merlot wine more structure. Regions include California, Argentina and Australia.
Wikipedia, Merlot from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Merlot
Guide to Merlot Wine Taste and Food Pairing from http://winefolly.com/tutorial/merlot-wine-taste-and-food-pairing/
Merlot – What is Merlot? from https://vinepair.com/wine-101/merlot/