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.

Wayne Gretzky Estate Merlot V.Q.A. 2006
Niagara, Canada
A rich, smooth, full-bodied red with notes of cherry and vanilla. Wayne Gretzky Estate Merlot V.Q.A. food pairings: stews, steak, roast. Alcohol: 13%  Sweetness: Extra Dry  750 ml  Price: $15.95 Score: 88/100

This Wayne Gretzky Estate Merlot V.Q.A. was reviewed December 4, 2007 by Natalie MacLean

LCBO: 63966  Check Stock

Villa Maria Private Bin Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon 2011
Hawkes Bay, New Zealand
Minty cool wild blackberry on the nose from this cool-climate red wine. Smooth and almost full-bodied. Great mouth-watering juiciness with a pleasant, refreshing bite on the finish. Try with rich meat dishes or hamburgers. Alcohol: 13%  Sweetness: Extra Dry  750 ml  Drink: 2013‐2015  Heavenly Hamburger Wine  Price: $16.45 Score: 87/100

This Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon was reviewed October 17, 2013 by Natalie MacLean

LCBO: 310300  3440 in stock

Trio Reserva Concha Y Toro Merlot Carmenere Cabernet Sauvignon 2012
Rapel Valley, Chile
Juicy and lip-smacking delicious! How can you not love this wine? Mocha and espresso goodness with plum preserve flavours crushing between your lips. This wine is perfect for movie night or with many types of meaty pizzas. Merlot Carmenere Cabernet Sauvignon food pairings: mushroom risotto, osso bucco, grilled steak, pork tenderloin. Alcohol: 14%  Sweetness: Extra Dry  750 ml  Drink: 2013‐2015  Smart Buy Wine  Price: $14.95 Score: 89/100

This Merlot Carmenere Cabernet Sauvignon was reviewed November 23, 2013 by Natalie MacLean

LCBO: 433920  103 in stock
BC: 152967  869 in stock
SAQ: 10694510  Check Stock

Inniskillin Okanagan Vineyards Merlot 2007
V.Q.A., Niagara On The Lake, Ontario, Canada
Smooth and medium- to full-bodied with black plums. Smoky finish. Perfect smooth jazz wine. Alcohol: 13%  Sweetness: Extra Dry  750 ml  Drink: 2010‐2013  Price: $14.95 Score: 86/100

This Merlot was reviewed March 28, 2011 by Natalie MacLean

LCBO: 188177  Check Stock

Plunkett Fowles Stone Dwellers Merlot 2008
Strathbogie Ranges, Victoria, Australia
Violets and plums with black cherries rolling across your senses. Lovely and full-bodied and plush. Top me up! Alcohol: 15%  Sweetness: Extra Dry  750 ml  Drink: 2008‐2014  Price: $19.95 Score: 90/100

This Merlot was reviewed May 28, 2011 by Natalie MacLean

LCBO: 221838  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.