by Peter May

Merlot is a red grape whose home is Bordeaux in France. It grows alongside Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc and is the component in Bordeaux's traditional blend that softens and makes young wine more palatable. On its own it makes the fabulous Ch Petrus and Le Pin, among the worlds most expensive wines. It takes the major part in the popular St Emilion appellation.

Merlot is softer and more approachable than Cabernet Sauvignon. It makes a medium colored red wine, soft and warm tasting with overtones of plums. It is versatile, good to drink on its own, excellent with food and a safe choice when ordering for a group.

It travels well, making good wine wherever it is planted. California embraced it, appreciating its friendliness and attraction to new red wine drinkers. Indeed, it became so successful in the 1990's that Merlot has almost become the generic name for a red wine. Recently there has been a move towards using it in a blend with Cabernet Sauvignon and such wines are known as Meritage.

Some of the best Merlots are made in Chile ¹ where they are grown on ungrafted vines, and South Africa is also producing quality Merlots.

You are unlikely to be disappointed with a Merlot wherever it comes from. It is a good red wine choice for a dinner party to suit everyone.

Food matches
The soft easy charm of Merlot makes a good partner for delicate flavored meats, including chicken.
Clos du Val (California), Errazuriz (Chile), Ch Petrus (Bordeax), Thelema (South Africa)

¹ Recent DNA tests have shown that many Chile merlot vines are in fact an ancient Bordeaux grape named Carmenere.

If you have been, thanks for reading.

Marilyn Merlot label
Marilyn Merlot label

© Copyright Peter May 2002.

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1 January 2002