Featured Food and Wine

Wine on Wednesday: Merlot

Last time on Wine on Wednesday, we learned more about Sauvignon Blanc.  This week, we’ll delve back into red wine with Merlot!


1x 1997 Michael Lynch Merlot
1x 1997 Michael Lynch Merlot (Photo credit: Gone-Walkabout)

Merlot (pronounced Mare-Low) is another popular red wine varietal like Cabernet Sauvignon, but what makes Merlot different from Cabernet is the flavor and richness.  As we discussed in our Wine on Wednesday installment for Cabernet, the Cabernet Sauvignon wine tends to be a more full bodied wine with a lot of tannins (see our Introduction to Wine on Wednesday for more information about terms like full bodied and tannins).  In contrast, Merlot tends to be a softer, medium bodied wine.  

Fruit notes you’ll find in Merlot are also similar to the notes you’ll find in Cabernet Sauvignon and include black cherry, blackberry, currant , raspberry, and plum.  In addition to the fruit notes you may also detect flavors of vanilla, clove, cedar, and even mocha and tobacco.  And although Merlot can be considered a somewhat lighter, fruitier wine with less tannins than Cabernet Sauvignon, this wine can still have a bite, so to speak, especially depending on the winemaker.  Merlot is considered a medium tannin wine, which means it will still leave a bit of a pucker in your mouth, just not so much as a Cabernet Sauvignon.  

As with many other red wine varietals, Merlot pairs well with red meat dishes, rich pasta dishes, or even pork.  But since Merlot is a lighter wine, it can also pair well with chicken dishes as well. 

Now that you know a little more about Merlot, would this wine be a good choice for you?  Often people who try red wine for the first time try Cabernet Sauvignon and think it’s too heavy or has too much of a pucker (tannins).  If you prefer a little richer flavored, less sweet wine, but don’t necessarily like the full bodied flavor of  Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot might be a good choice for you.  This wine also tends to have a little fruitier flavor in a red wine, but without the sweetness you might find in other fruity wines.  

Here are a few of my favorite winemakers for Merlot:

Stag’s Leap

Francis Ford Coppola’s Director’s Cut Merlot

Lava Cap



 I hope you’ve enjoyed learning a little more about Merlot wine, and stay tuned for the next installment of Wine on Wednesday, where we’ll learn more about Pinot Grigio!  




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Ericka @Chef PickyKid and Me

I love to cook and entertain for family and friends, and I especially love being in the kitchen with my daughter who loves to cook as well. I enjoy making recipes that are easy to prepare and use ingredients most people have in their kitchen. Visit me at www.chefpickykid.com!

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1 Comment

  1. I love Merlot. I am normally a white wine drinker that has recently discovered the joy of red wine. I don’t know a lot about it so I always appreciate any new knowledge that I can gain. Great article.

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