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Wine Mouths!

Drinking our way through North Carolina, one winery at a time.

About Merlot

Merlot is the red that wine drinkers love to hate, but how much do you actually know about this grape?

Merlot is a Bordeaux variety that was named after a type of French black bird (the merlau) that was known for eating the ripe grapes off the vine. If we were to draw out its family tree for you, it's the bastard child of Cabernet Franc (the father) and a half-sibling of Carmenere, Malbec, and Cabernet Sauvignon. (It's like the Jon Snow of wine...get it...? bastard child? no? okay.)

Merlot was historically used for blending with other wines, but these days it's allowed to hold its own. It can be harder to grow than other grapes due to its thin skin and cold sensitivity, but the efforts are worth it. Merlot wine is sensitive to light, so Merlot-based wines appear to have an orange tint on the rim when poured in a glass.

Merlot has medium tannins and medium acidity, which make it a good middle-of-the-road red that will cover almost any situation. The primary flavors to look for in Merlot are:

  • Fruit:
    • Black cherry
    • Raspberry
    • Plum
  • Graphite
  • Cedar
  • Tobacco
  • Vanilla
  • Clove
  • Mocha
  • Oak

So maybe you'll rethink Merlot a bit now, huh? In the meantime, here's a great YouTube video!

Merlot Food Pairing

Mulled Wine Recipe