Best Merlot Wine

Merlot became a brand name wine in the 1980s because of its smooth, rich, easy-drinking flavors and texture. It has less acidity and astringency (that furry mouth feeling from tannins) than many other grapes and a medium-body that appeals to many palates. It's since been somewhat vilified, like Chardonnay, for being boring: the soft jazz of the wine world. (Remember Miles' scorn for Merlot in the movie Sideways?) However, it is also the leading grape in some of the world's most famous wines such as Château Petrus, Château Cheval Blanc and Château Palmer.

Merlot is the third most widely planted grape in France (after Carignan and Grenache) and first in the Bordeaux region, especially in St. Emilion and Pomerol, where it usually leads in the blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet France, Malbec and Petit Verdot. Other regions notable for Merlot include southern France (Languedoc), north east Italy (Veneto), eastern Europe, California, Washington State, Chile, Argentina and New Zealand. In Chile, many vines long thought to be Merlot were later identified as Carmenère, a Bordeaux variety.

The two grapes are similar, though, in aroma profile, but Carmenère tends to have more structure. Merlot ripens about a week earlier than both Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc and therefore is generally richer, riper and rounder as a grape in the blend. It also is a safer bet for vintners because they can harvest Merlot earlier before fall rains or early frosts. Merlot likes dry, rocky soils but is thin-skinned and can be prone to rot or early spring frosts since it also flowers early. It must be pruned regularly as it's a vigorous vine that if over-cropped, produces wines that taste watery, weedy or grassy.

My reviews of these Merlot red wines are updated weekly. These Merlot red wines offer great taste at a good price. You'll find a definition of Merlot wine at the bottom of this page as well as food pairings for Merlot in my wine matcher. This is just a small set of my reviews, but you can get all of them when you join my wine community.

Zenato Merlot Corvina 2006
I.G.T., Veneto, Italy
Vintages Wine Panel: The always dependable Zenato winery deftly combines the international variety Merlot with Veneto’s own Corvina to craft a smooth and supple red that’s perfect for spring barbecues. Deeply colored, with aromas of blackberry, dark chocolate, coffee and black cherry, this stylish blend is dry and invigorating with a ripe and round texture and a lengthy finish. My note: A lovely, juicy, succulently ripe red with aromas of fleshy plums, blackberries, black raspberries, mocha and smoke. Full-bodied and a velvet texture. A soul-soothing wine to sip and relax. Merlot Corvina food pairings: grilled steaks, gourmet hamburgers, portobello mushrooms. Alcohol: 14%  Sweetness: Dry  750 ml  Price: $19.95 Score: 90/100

This Merlot Corvina was reviewed May 2, 2009 by Natalie MacLean

LCBO: 108282  Check Stock

Château Hauchat Jean-Bernard Saby & Fils Merlot Blend 2006
A.C., Fronsac, Bordeaux, France
Terrific value for this tasty red: not complex but tasty. Notes of blackberry, cassis, and dark spices. A lovely velvet texture. A bottle to enjoy now. Alcohol: 13%  Sweetness: Extra Dry  750 ml  Price: $15.00 Score: 87/100

This Merlot Blend was reviewed December 5, 2009 by Natalie MacLean

LCBO: 123489  Check Stock

Thorn-Clarke Shotfire Quartage Cabernet Sauvignon Petit Verdot Merlot Malbec 2007
Barossa, South Australia, Australia
Dark chocolate with black plums and blackberries. Full-bodied and smooth. Alcohol: 14%  Sweetness: Dry  750 ml  Price: $19.95 Score: 89/100

This Cabernet Sauvignon Petit Verdot Merlot Malbec was reviewed July 24, 2010 by Natalie MacLean

LCBO: 24091  1054 in stock
BC: 94433  Check Stock
SAQ: 10339032  104 in stock

Marques De Casa Concha Peumo Vineyards Concha Y Toro Merlot 2009
Rapel Valley, Cachapoal Valley, Chile
Big mocha and espresso from the oak aging supported by fleshy ripe blackberries and black plums. Rich and smooth. Alcohol: 14.5%  Sweetness: Dry  750 ml  Drink: 2012‐2015  Top Rated Red Wine  Price: $19.95 Score: 90/100

This Merlot was reviewed June 9, 2012 by Natalie MacLean

LCBO: 939827  Check Stock
SAQ: 10694261  Check Stock

Henry of Pelham Estate Winery VQA Niagara Peninsula Merlot 2007
Niagara Escarpment, Canada
Rich and round with black plums and a satin texture. Medium- to full-bodied with fleshy blackberries o the finish. Perfect for movie night. Merlot food pairings: roasted red meats with simple sauces and young, firm textured cheeses. Alcohol: 13.4%  Sweetness: Dry  750 ml  Drink: 2010‐2012  Price: $19.95 Score: 88/100

This Merlot was reviewed March 28, 2011 by Natalie MacLean

LCBO: 91165  Check Stock

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Merlot tends to be more herbaceous in aroma than Cabernet Sauvignon. Other signature notes include plums, currants, black cherries, blackberries, vanilla, coconuts, violets, roses, cloves, bay leaves, green peppercorns, mushrooms, coffee, mocha, cedar, cigar box, bell pepper and green olive. Its color ranges from medium dark red to deep blue.

Merlot, with its juicy dark fruit flavors, pairs well with many meat dishes such as beef, cheese, poultry, borsch (beet soup), quesadillas, Tandoori-flavored dishes, game, lamb, pasta, pork, veal, lentil dishes and dark chocolate.