Learn Your Wine: Merlot

Although I’m personally drawn to white wines (the red wines leave those weird lip stains), this week we’ll venture into the classy world of Merlot. And when I say classy, I speak of the bottles you have to buy of Merlot – not the Franzia boxed shit we all play Slap the Bag with.


Sooo obviously the Merlot grape = Merlot wine, but it also makes lots of other wines. Originating in France (duh), the Merlot grape is a blending partner to Cabernet Sauvignon and Cab Franc. Two thirds of all Merlot grapes are grown in France. The rest are kinda spread out in Italy, California, etc.

Types and Tastes:

There are several “styles” of Merlot, but they mostly depend on where the Merlot is grown. All Merlots have a red fruit plus soft finish plus easy tannin thing going on, but depending on where it came from, your Merlot should have like, certain characteristics. So for instance:

  • Merlot grown in a cool climate will have a more “structured” taste, with earthy flavors like tobacco and tar along with notes of cherry, currants, anise, and herbs. Merlots from primarily France, Chile, and Italy have these characteristics.
  • Merlot grown in a warm climate is fruitier than the cool climate version. Flavor and smell notes include berries, vanilla, raspberry, mocha, and flowers. Wines from California, Australia, and Argentina have these notes. These wines makes for easier drinking and are described as more “friendly.”

Drink with:

Lucky for you, Merlot is pretty easy to pair with food (even though betches don’t eat) depending on where it’s been grown/bottled.

  • Cooler climate Merlots pair well with aperitifs, light cheeses, chicken and duck.
  • Warmer climate Merlots pair well with red meat like steak, lamb, or wild game (like, deer).

Don’t pair this shit with spicy food, though, as the capsaicin (the chemical that makes spicy food spicy) can bring out the bitterness of the alcohol and make it like, gross. Also, don’t pair with fish or leafy green veggies like kale because it’ll overpower it and be super gag-inducing.

Congrats on learning a red wine that you can probs use to make sangria or interesting alcohol-punch.


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