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.

Yarden Mount Herman Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot Cabernet Franc 2007
Galilee, Israel
A deep, rich, full-bodied with aromas of dark red berries, purple plums and smoke. A seductively smooth texture. This wine is Kosher Lamehadrin and Kosher for Passover. Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot Cabernet Franc food pairings: roasted eggplant, beef bourguignonne, meatloaf, tongue, romano cheese, ostrich. Alcohol: 14%  750 ml  Price: $19.90 Score: 88/100

This Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot Cabernet Franc was reviewed March 24, 2009 by Natalie MacLean

LCBO: 611293  Check Stock
BC: 611293  Check Stock
SAQ: 10236682  Check Stock

Linden Bay Winery Cabernet Merlot
Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada
Plush and ultra-smooth with lovely dark plum and berry aromas. A superb party wine or one to enjoy with just a few friends. Fantastic price. Cabernet Merlot food pairings: beef, lamb, and pasta dishes. Alcohol: 13%  Sweetness: Medium Dry  750 ml  Price: $10.95 Score: 86/100

This Cabernet Merlot was reviewed March 28, 2011 by Natalie MacLean

LCBO: 212142  Check Stock

Oyster Bay Merlot 2008
Hawke's Bay, New Zealand
Vintages Wine Panel: Well focused and beautifully textured, this is drinking well now and will do so on to 2014. You'll discover rich black plum aromas and flavors along with mixed spice box and herbal notes. It's particularly well balanced with everything melding together on the silky smooth finish. Hawkes Bay is New Zealand's über Merlot region. My note: Rich and plummy with notes of dark chocolate and black cherries. Gorgeously smooth texture. Medium- to full-bodied. Closed with a screwcap. Merlot food pairings: lamb shank, peppercorn steak. Alcohol: 13%  Sweetness: Dry  750 ml  Price: $17.95 Score: 88/100

This Merlot was reviewed May 7, 2009 by Natalie MacLean

LCBO: 692343  1226 in stock
BC: 111310  2085 in stock

X & Y Cabernet Merlot 2004
Margaret River, Western Australia, Australia
Vintages Wine Panel: X&Y celebrates what the younger generation loves about the region: the culture, art, surf and great wineries. This approachable fruit-driven wine is a soft, delectable and lip-smacking red to enjoy. My note: Terrific quaffable with tasty notes of ripe plush plums and black raspberries. Full-bodied and smooth. Cabernet Merlot food pairings: Aussie “sausage sizzlers”, barbecued sausages and onions served on white bread with tomato sauce. Alcohol: 14%  Sweetness: Dry  750 ml  Price: $17.95 Score: 88/100

This Cabernet Merlot was reviewed July 4, 2009 by Natalie MacLean

LCBO: 107995  Check Stock

Richard Hamilton Lot 148 Merlot 2006
Mclaren Vale, South Australia, Australia
Love the river of flavor on this wine: starts at the front of your mouth and continues on through the finish. Black cherries, damson plum, briary and tobacco leaves. Full-bodied, oh yes. Merlot food pairings: rich patés, barbecued beef ribs, spicy pork. Alcohol: 14%  Sweetness: Dry  750 ml  Drink: 2009‐2012  Price: $19.95 Score: 91/100

This Merlot was reviewed May 2, 2009 by Natalie MacLean

LCBO: 39461  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.