Merlot: Its Flavors, Food Pairing and More

Merlot is a classic wine that should be represented in everyone’s wine rack. It is available as a red or white wine, and it is also available in three different main varieties. Due to the variations between different types of Merlot, it is important for a wine lover to keep several different bottles on hand. If you have all of the styles of Merlot available, then you will never need to struggle to find the right wine to pair with a meal.

Flavors

Red Merlot is available in three distinct flavors. Each flavor has the tendency to exhibit a wide range of fruit, earthy, vegetable, herbal and floral notes. Merlot’s flavor can also be enhanced if oak was introduced. A good glass of Merlot is likely to contain up to 40 different distinct notes from the six previously listed note categories, including plum, cassis, humus, leather, rosemary, chocolate and vanilla.

Merlot is a very versatile wine, but most styles of Merlot can be divided into three categories:

1.) Highly tannic, brawny and sharing some properties with Cabernet Sauvignon.

2.) An average tannic structure paired with a very fruity taste.

3.) Subtly tannic with a very smooth, fruity and soft taste.

In addition to the more popular red Merlot, there is also a white Merlot that follows the same production process as White Zinfandel. White Merlot is typically characterized by a slight hint of raspberry flavoring, and it is a relatively new wine that has only been in production for approximately fifteen years.

Those who enjoy hybrid wines should also check out Merlot Blanc. Rather than sticking with just the Merlot grape, the manufacturers of Merlot Blanc have chosen to mix Merlot with Folle Blanche. It is commonly stated that Merlot Blanc is unrelated to Merlot, but the Merlot grape is used to produce it.

Food Pairings

The right bottle of Merlot will compliment almost any meal. The trick is to determine which of the three main types is the right choice at any given time. A Merlot that is highly tannic is the perfect drink to accompany meat that has been charred or grilled. A Merlot that has a medium level of tannins goes well with mushroom dishes, most greens and salmon. The soft, subtle and light Merlot will enhance a meal that includes shellfish, prosciutto and bacon. As with all wines, each variety has the ability to blend well with different cheeses, but your best bet is to use Merlot only with cheeses of a mild nature.

Regions

The Merlot grape is grown and manufactured into wine in several different regions. It is the main component of France’s grape wine industry, and this naturally makes France the number one country for Merlot wine production. Other areas that produce a notable amount of Merlot include Italy, California, Argentina and Mexico. In total, there are at least 19 different countries where the Merlot grape is grown and harvested for the production of wine.

Each region has different naturally occurring properties in their soil, and this impacts the flavor of the wine. The availability of the Merlot grape in so many countries has been a major factor in all of the different styles and blends. In Italy, for example, it is common to blend Merlot with Cabernet Sauvignon. In California, wine makers have developed everything from quick and simple wines to more complex, barrel aged wines that are enjoyed by those who consider themselves to be serious about drinking wine.

Homemade Merlot

With the right ingredients and enough patience, it is possible for anyone to make their own Merlot. The exact process that you follow will impact which version of Merlot you end up with, and it will take a minimum of 79 days before your wine will be ready to be tasted. One of the joys of making homemade Merlot comes from experimenting and discovering subtle flavor variations, so make sure that you document your process for each bottle so that you can duplicate it later once you create the perfect Merlot.