Merlot Wine

One of the Most Popular Reds in the World

Merlot Wine is one of the most popular red wine types in the world. Explore this popular red wine including its history, tips on how to serve it, and some food pairing ideas. Also, discover a new favorite Merlot from one of the top wine regions.

Merlot wines burst with flavors of red cherries, plums and blueberries. Red berry flavors mix with hints of chocolate and vanilla. Can you tell why so many people love this red wine type?

Most are either medium or full bodied wines. You will find the typical Merlot is lighter than most Cabernet Sauvignon wines. It is also heavier than your usual Pinot Noir wine. My favorites are the medium bodied ones that are smooth and balance the red fruits and other flavors well.

The image below is a Merlot vineyard in Bordeaux. The best ones in this region sit right along the river.

merlot wine vineyard

This is a type of red that I really didn't like for a long time. There was a lot of hype around it, but I truly didn't understand why. I always had a hard time finding a great one. Instead, I always opted to drink other varieties.

This all changed in the last couple of years. I was so curious about it that I made it my mission to find some of the best. Ah - success - I now understand why so many people just love these reds!

Learn more about some of the top regions below. In addition to the regions, you can find out more about Merlot wine in the following sections.

How do you pronounce Merlot? Click the
play button below to listen to an English pronunciation.

History of Merlot

Merlot wine is one of the most popular and well known types of reds in the world. It's also one of the most planted grapes worldwide.

This is another famous grape and it's linked to both Cabernet Franc Wine and Cabernet Sauvignon Wine. Cabernet Franc is reported as one of the parents of Merlot.

This makes Cabernet Sauvignon one of its siblings. The second parent of this type of red wine is unknown, so it's only partially related to Cabernet Sauvignon.

California and US Merlot Wine Popularity

Its popularity in the US increased in the early 1990s. At the time, California wineries were having a hard time keeping up with demand.

The problem was that it was not a widely grown grape in California at the beginning of the 1990s. While California struggled with quantity, they had some bad luck and that began a short struggle with quality.

The California Merlot vineyards were hit with phylloxera in the mid-1990s. Phylloxera is an insect that destroys grape vines. It attaches itself to the roots of the vine, eats away at them and destroys them to a point where they can no longer soak up water and nutrients from the soil. It is a very destructive bug and hard to eliminate from the vineyards.

merlot grapes in napa

Ripe Merlot grapes on a vine in Napa Valley, California

As you can imagine, this was a very devastating time for producers in California. They became a little frantic and overwatered their surviving grapes to try to keep up with demand. This allowed them to create more bottles to keep up with demand, but destroyed their credibility since the quality was so low.

Through a lot of hard work and dedication, they were able to catch up in the early 2000s. This is when both the supply and the quality increased. The great news for the producers is that the US red drinkers responded positively. From this point on, the demand for this type increased.

Popular Regions for Merlot Wines

As I mentioned above, Merlot is one of the most popular types of red in the world. It grows in many popular regions in the world including Bordeaux, Napa Valley in California and Columbia Valley in Washington State.

European Regions

France is famous for its Merlot. You find more Merlot in France than all of the regions in the United States. Some of the most popular French blends includes Merlot.

It is one of the three main varieties in the famous Bordeaux blend. Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc are the other two major varieties in this blend. In fact, more of these grapes grow in Bordeaux than any other red.

Most Merlot wines come from the 'right bank' area in Bordeaux. Right bank producers are on the northern or 'right bank' of the rivers in the region. Soils on this side of the river banks is perfect to grow high quality Merlot wine.

One of my favorite regions on the right bank is Saint Emilion. The blend here is primarily Merlot with some Cabernet Franc mixed in. I like it because of the great balance of the flavors. I find it is really smooth and bottles are available at a reasonable price.

merlot grapes bordeaux

Several Merlot vines with ripe grapes in Saint Emilion in Bordeaux, France

Pomerol is another region in Bordeaux known for their Merlot blends. While they have amazing wines in this region, they also fetch a higher price than those of their neighbor Saint Emilion. Petrus is a top producer in Pomerol and their wines sell for upwards of $400 to $1000 a bottle!

It is also grown throughout Italy. It grows in three quarters of its twenty regions.

Some other European countries that produce Merlot include:

  • Bulgaria
  • Hungry
  • Romania
  • Spain

US Regions

In the US, Napa Valley is a key contributor to flavorful Merlots. As you read above, the quality of the California Merlots increased over the last couple of decades. They are usually very fruity, but still smooth. The price for Napa Merlots ranges from under $10 to up to $100+ and price doesn't always dictate the quality.

Washington producers are also starting to get noticed for their Merlot wine. This is probably one of the best places in the US to find really good Merlots that are still reasonably priced.

It is the second most grown variety in the state. Merlots from Washington are full bodied with flavors of cherries and red berries. You will also taste hints of mint and sweet spices.

Other Regions

Australian wineries are also produce it. Regions in Australia began planting it in the 1990s.

This type of red is very important in Chile, where it's one of their major exports. Other South American countries that grow it are Uruguay, Brazil and Bolivia. Read on to learn even more about the top five regions for Merlot.

If you haven't tried one recently, I would recommend trying a bottle from one of these regions. I think you will be pleasantly surprised by the quality and prices for many of these wines. Find a great deal online icontoday!

How To Serve Merlot

The great thing about it is that it is an easy one to serve. You can serve it with a meal or on its own. Typically, the French versions go best with a meal, since this is typically how the French enjoy their wine.

The majority of them are drinkable at an early age and only need around 3 to 5 years of aging. By allowing them to age a few years, you can enjoy their full flavors.

Stop! Don't throw out that left over wine! Discover tips for storing your opened wine for up to a week or more after you open it.

There are a few higher end, serious Merlots that need aging (5 to 15 years). These days this is more of an exception and are usually the high priced versions.

Serve at room temperature or around 61° to 65° F (16° to 18° C) (Find additional serving temperature tips).

You will also want to serve them in a standard glass. Many of them are called 'Cabernet/Merlot' glasses or 'Bordeaux' glasses. Here is the type of glass I typically use to serve Merlot.

Food Pairing Ideas

As I mentioned above, Merlot wine is a great choice to serve with meals. It is very versatile and one that goes well with most meals. You can pair a medium bodied one with a lighter meal such as tuna, salmon, chicken or even turkey.

If yours is a little heavier, you will need a heavier meal to pair with it such as steaks or other red meat.

You will also find that medium bodied Merlots go well with lamb or roast duck. Casual meals such as vegetable pizza and burgers also work well with Merlot. The flavor pops when you pair it with soft cheeses.

Tips to Buy Merlot Red Wine Online

The best place to find a wide selection of Merlot is online. Not only is the selection better, but you might even find a better deal on your order. Many online sites also run shipping specials, so you save when you buy a certain quantity.

Another great thing about buying online is you can see others' comments. This gives you a great sense of what others thought it and what you can expect.

Here are some tips for finding great Merlots from some of the top regions:

  • California: Find labels that say 'Napa Valley'. Both 2007 and 2008 are exceptional years for wines in this region. The quality of Napa Valley Merlots varies widely. Here are just some of the producers to look for in Napa: Markham, Ghost Pines, Raymond Vineyards, Twomey Cellars by Silver Oak, Stags Leap, Beaulieu Vineyard (BV) or Napa Cellars.

  • Washington: Look for labels that say 'Columbia Valley' or 'Yakima Valley'. 2007 was an exceptional year for reds in Washington. Merlots from that vintage might be more expensive, but higher quality.

  • Bordeaux: Find labels with the words 'Saint Emilion' or 'Pomerol'. You will find six different Saint Emilion regions: Saint Emilion, Saint Emilion Grand Cru, St-George Saint Emilion, Lussac-Saint Emilion, Puisseguin-Saint Emilion & Montagne-Saint Emilion. Each one is slightly different and you can tell the quality by the price. Saint Emilion Grand Cru is the highest quality one of the six and the most expensive.

  • Chile: This is an up and coming Merlot wine region. There are only a few on the market and you can get some great values for around $20.

Find ratings, reviews and prices for Merlot wine icononline.

Here are some other pages you might enjoy:

  • Pomerol Information: Some of the best Merlots come from this region in Bordeaux. Find out about its history and the reds from this region.

  • Most Popular Red Types: This is one of the most popular reds in the world, but what are the others? Uncover the four most popular red wines in the world.

  • Party Ideas: Want to feature this red at a party? Here are some tips for throwing a fun tasting party.

  • Stain Removal Tips: Are you afraid to throw a party because someone might spill their wine? Investigate these red wine stain removal tips and prepare yourself before the party even starts!
> Merlot

New! Comments

Have your say about what you just read! Leave me a comment in the box below.

Share This Page!

Follow me on Facebook

Back to the Top