Merlot, or as the French would say, Little Blackbird, is the second most popular red grape across the globe. Why they call it a red grape, I’m not quite sure because the grape is more of a dark blue color and tends to have a higher sugar and lower magic acid content. Merlot has medium tannins and tends to be more on the dryer side of the spectrum.
If you are all about Merlot wine, it might be time for a little traveling because the merlot’s grape homeland is located in France with about two-thirds of its plantings done there. It is also very popularly grown in Italy, Romania, South Africa, Switzerland, Croatia, Australia, Bulgaria, New Zealand, Chile, and Argentina. Too far to travel? No worries merlot is also planted locally, right here in the US in California, Washington, Virginia and Long Island. It is best grown in cooler soils. If it is grown in warmer areas, it will ripen too early.
Be very careful because Merlot contains at least 13.5% of alcohol, and some types of it can contain at least 14.5%, usually the types that are grown in warmer climates. It might not seem like much, but after a glass or two it might creep up on ya! If you wish to get the best taste out of your Merlot, it should be served at 62 degrees F. and it is recommended to also be served in a bordeaux glass after being aged for five to ten years.
Merlot’s best quality is that it includes so many beautiful flavors!!
Fruity: cassis, black and red cherries, blackberry, blueberry, boysenberry, mulberry, ollalieberry and plum.
Vegetable and earthy: black and green olives, cola nut, bell pepper, fennel, humus, leather, mushrooms, rhubarb and tobacco.
Floral and herbal: green and black tea, eucalyptus, laurel, mint, oregano, pine, rosemary, sage, sarsaparilla and thyme.
When fermented in oak barrels for a longer period of time, Merlot may contain notes of caramel, chocolate, coconut, coffee bean, dill weed, mocha, molasses, smoke, vanilla and walnut.
Luckilyyyyy Merlot has so many diverse flavors that it can lend itself quite nicely to a wide array of pairing options. Cabernet-like Merlots pair well with grilled and charred meats. Softer, fruitier Merlots go well with dishes like salmon or mushroom-based dishes. Light-bodied Merlots can go well with shrimp or scallops, especially if wrapped in a protein-rich food such as bacon or prosciutto. Hmm, I don’t know about you, but this is definitely making me hungry!!
If you’re feeling a little nutty, Merlot also pairs well with almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts or toasted cashews.
Or maybe you’re feeling cheesy and if you are, then pair Merlot with gorgonzola, brie, camembert, cheddar. You won’t be disappointed!
The darker the wine, the darker the chocolate pairing! Merlot goes best with dark chocolate truffles. Yuuuummmm!!
Ooooor if you’re one of those people who has a deep love for pizza and cannot get enough of it, Merlot also pairs well with pepperoni pizza. Who would have know pizza and wine could be paired? I sure didn’t.
Not so much a fan of the red wines??? Well you’re in luck, because there is also a White Merlot! Welllllll, I guess it’s more of a rosé, with a hint of raspberry, but I bet it still tastes delicious!! You can thank Switzerland for this wonderful creation!
Join me next week when I take my favorite Merlot and make chocolate dipped fruity popsicles. You won’t want to miss this. They’re to die for!