Merlot….the French word for ‘Young Blackbird’.
So named because of the beautiful blue/black skin of the grape~or, perhaps, simply because the Blackbirds enjoy eating the grape!
Merlot is the most planted grape in the Bordeaux region, and is one of six possible grapes to find in a Bordeaux wine. (perhaps you may know-the English name for Bordeaux wine is Claret.)
Merlot wine contains lower tannins than other reds, making it a palate pleaser for most. It’s soft, well rounded and often used in blends to lend these characteristics to the final product.
The low acidity and higher sugar content of the grape make it a very versatile wine when looking at food pairing. Merlot can hold it’s own with almost all but the spiciest dishes-which may overwhelm the soft Merlot.
If you’re looking to compare Merlot to other wines-look at the image below, for example. You’ll see Merlot falls right in the middle between the light and lively Pinot Noir and the spicey bite of the Syrah.
In store we have Merlot wines from four different areas-France, Chile, California and Yakima Valley, Washington. They range from medium, medium-full to full bodied. All deliver palate pleasing gentle tannins with notes varying region dependent from plum to cherry to raspberry with the Yakima valley Merlot adding soft notes of cedar and mocha! The French Merlot has a touch of vanilla and a light spice on the finish…
So, my friends, please do not disregard Merlot simply because of it’s popularity with the less experienced wine crowd. This grape has much to offer on so many levels and more complexity than most realize.