Winemakers love Merlot grapes because they are easy to grow and quick to ripen. Casual wine drinkers appreciate that Merlot wines can be soft and approachable, with delicious dark fruit flavors. In Merlot blends, the grapes add a moderating influence, providing measured tannins, soft texture, medium acidity and medium alcohol. Accordingly, Merlot balances the more rustic and herbaceous qualities of Cabernet Sauvignon, a frequent blending partner.
Merlot can also make complex, full-bodied and concentrated wines with grippy tannins and aging potential. Many connoisseurs consider the best Merlot wine to come from Bordeaux’s Right Bank, where the varietal predominates in wines from St.-Émilion, Pomerol and other renowned appellations. Merlot is also blended to excellent effect with the other red Bordeaux varieties, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.
California wine has been produced since the area’s first European settlers arrived centuries ago. Today, California wine country is the source for 90 percent of wine made in the United States, from everyday table wines to some of the world’s most sought-after bottlings.
Recommended food pairings
Beef, pork, roast chicken, casseroles, vegetarian entrees