Who doesn’t love a good Merlot? It’s smooth and fruity, pleasantly boozy and always easy on the pocketbook. Add to that the fact that it’s a great food pairing partner and it’s not hard to see why Merlot is one of the popular kids.
What is Merlot?
Merlot is a red wine grape that’s used both for blending and for varietal wines. It originated in France’s Bordeaux region but can now be found in many other wine regions around the world, including in Australia’s Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale.
Merlot wine is known for being soft, elegant, and easy to drink, thanks to its low tannin levels, which makes it great wine to enjoy with food or on its own.
It’s best to store Merlot at around 15-16 ˚C and then let it sit at room temperature for about half an hour before you intend to drink it. If it’s been stored at room temperature on a warm day, you can put the bottle in an ice bath for about 10 minutes before serving.
Also, try to let the wine breathe for at least 20 minutes before serving, as this allows the tannins to soften and the flavours to open up.
Varieties of Merlot
Merlot wines come in a few different styles, depending on whether they’re grown in warm or cool climates. Warm climate Merlots from countries like Australia and Argentina tend to be fruitier with flavours of berries, vanilla and chocolate.
Cooler climate versions, like those produced in France, often taste more structured and have earthier flavours like tobacco along with notes of fresh herbs, cherries and currants.
Food Matching Recommendations
It’s hard to think of foods that don’t match well with Merlot, but if you’re not sure, look for foods cooked with tomato-based sauces as well as barbecued ribs, roast chicken or grilled vegetables.
Merlot also plays nice with fruits like blackberries, cherries, red grapes and plums, or cheeses like smoked Provolone or Parmesan. Avoid pairing it with fish or leafy green vegetables, however, as these foods will overpower the wine’s flavours.