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.

Kim Crawford Merlot 2011
Hawkes Bay, North Island, New Zealand
Lots of mouth-watering acidity that cries out for food. Black fruit aromas and flavours, medium-bodied. Merlot food pairings: grilled beef, lamb. Alcohol: 13.5%  Sweetness: Dry  750 ml  Drink: 2012‐2015  Price: $19.95 Score: 87/100

This Merlot was reviewed October 27, 2012 by Natalie MacLean

LCBO: 680967  Check Stock

Wayne Gretzky Estate No. 99 Cabernet Merlot 2007
V.Q.A., Niagara Peninsula, Canada
Vintages Wine Panel: Made by Rob Power and Craig McDonald of Creekside, this Cabernet/Merlot shows why they were named Winemakers of the Year at the 2008 Ontario Wine Awards. Deep ruby/purple color leads the way to a pretty nose featuring cassis, blueberry, new leather, toasty oak and plum. Dry with lots of extract, fine tannic grip and good acid all coming together to make this wine special. Age it 2-4 years to shake its youth, or enjoy it tonight with a rare steak or lamb chops. My note: Juicy, powerful and concentrated! I love a wine that makes my mouth water. Lovely notes of ripe blackberries and black raspberries.  Full-bodied with good length on the finish. Alcohol: 12.7%  Sweetness: Dry  750 ml  Price: $18.95 Score: 90/100

This Cabernet Merlot was reviewed August 21, 2010 by Natalie MacLean

LCBO: 128652  Check Stock

Tabor Galil Kp Merlot 2009
Galilee, Israel
Pleasant with notes of black fruit and toasty oak. Full-bodied and smooth. Alcohol: 13.9%  Sweetness: Dry  750 ml  Drink: 2012‐2014  Price: $14.95 Score: 87/100

This Merlot was reviewed February 18, 2012 by Natalie MacLean

LCBO: 183517  Check Stock

Taja Reserva Monastrell Cabernet Sauvignon Tempranillo Merlot 2003
D.O. Jumilla, Spain
This wine is made by the owners of the coveted Château Palmer in Bordeaux. It’s a blend of Monastrell (Mourvèdre), Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo and Merlot. Terrific richness and depth. Aromas of juicy black plums, kirsch, pepper and dusty cigar box. Full-bodied with a good finish. Monastrell Cabernet Sauvignon Tempranillo Merlot food pairings: beef daube, roasted turkey, tongue, tacos. Alcohol: 14%  Sweetness: Extra Dry  750 ml  Drink: 2008‐2016  Price: $17.95 Score: 91/100

This Monastrell Cabernet Sauvignon Tempranillo Merlot was reviewed January 10, 2009 by Natalie MacLean

LCBO: 243329  Check Stock
BC: 653642  Check Stock

Ravine Vineyard Estate Winery Redcoat Merlot Cabernet Franc Cabernet Sauvignon 2010
V.Q.A. Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada
A juicy chewy blend of lusciously ripe grapes: 60% Merlot, 29% Cabernet Franc, 11% Cabernet Sauvignon. Savoury with black cherry aromas and flavours and purple plums, licorice and anise. A smooth, full-bodied texture and weight with a nice mouth-watering bite for food. Alcohol: 13.2%  Sweetness: Dry  750 ml  Drink: 2012‐2016  Plush Pork Wine  Price: $17.95 Score: 88/100

This Merlot Cabernet Franc Cabernet Sauvignon was reviewed June 22, 2012 by Natalie MacLean

LCBO: 260406  Check Stock

Join Us


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.