The Chardonnay of red wines, versatile, agreeable, slightly pronounceable, and easy to like – that’s Merlot! With the softness of Merlot, it has become popular as a “beginner’s” wine for people who have just started drinking red wines. Although Merlot reds act as the quintessential entry-level wine for most people, it isn’t as basic as you think. Merlot wines can just be as complicated as its more expensive counterpart. Commanding the highest respect in the wine world, it has gained popularity because of its ability to be paired perfectly with any food.
Commonly, Merlot red wines are regarded as an underdog to Cabernet Sauvignon due to the bad reputation of cheap commercial Merlots, which are often described as watery and insipid. It recently bounced back to the limelight, surpassing Cabernet Sauvignon to be the top-selling red wine variety from the start of 21st century. A glass of Merlot became the counterpart of a glass of Chardonnay for those who prefer reds. Despite the existence of subpar Merlot wines, they still managed to shine through with the few good Merlot wines left in the market.
Due to the fact that good Merlot reds are usually balanced well and have a flavor that is more forgiving to beginners, it became popular as a way to enter the wine world. A soft finish and smooth tannins are things you would find in a typical Merlot wine, but there’s something more to this red than just that. Due to the fact that Merlot grapes are process differently, along with different growing climates, Merlot is somewhat the chameleon of wines. Its taste varies depending on the region, whether it is grown in cool or warm climates.
Cool Climate Merlots have a higher presence of tannins creating an earthly flavor compared to its counterpart in warmer regions. These Merlots usually have a rich roasted flavor, very full-bodied, and fleshy red. Some have notes of a powerful licorice aroma and charcoal finish, resulting to a slight mineral flavor. These cool climate Merlots are usually grown in Italy, Chile and its homeland, France.
Hot Climate Merlots, such as those grown in California, Argentina, and Australia, tastes more on the fruity side and usually have soft tannins. Merlots from these climates are typically silky finished, delicious, plummy, round and generous. Due to the softness of its flavor, some producers spend up to 24 months of treatment to give these reds more structure giving it almost 14% alcohol content.
Because of its position on the red wine spectrum, Merlot red wines can be paired with almost any food. It would complement any tomato-based dishes, sweet desserts, red meats, chicken, and light-spiced dark meats. Just a piece of advice, don’t pair it with any dish containing fish, leafy greens, or any heavily spiced food! These might overpower the slightly tamed flavor Merlot red wines have. Merlots are also good on their own in case pairing it with a dish is not possible.
So, if you are thinking of giving it a go, Merlot reds can be ordered online! Buy a bottle and experience the amazing taste of this wine variety.