Merlot Wine Pairing

Merlot became a brand name wine in the 1980s because of its smooth, rich, easy-drinking flavors and texture. Merlot has less acidity and astringency (that furry mouth feeling from tannins) than many other grapes and a medium-body that appeals to many palates. Merlot has 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?) Merlot 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. Merlot and Carmenère 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. Merlot 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. Merlot must be pruned regularly as it's a vigorous vine that if over-cropped, produces wines that taste watery, weedy or grassy.

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. Merlot's color ranges from medium dark red to deep blue.

Merlot, with its juicy dark fruit flavors, pairs well with these foods:

Merlot Wine with beef:

     • beef with stout
     • beef cooked in red wine
     • beef: roast
     • beef bourguignonne
     • beef stew
     • hamburgers, meatloaf
     • pot roast
     • steak, prime rib
     • brisket
     • chili dog
     • beef
     • casseroles & stews
     • meatballs
     • steak, grilled
     • cheeseburgers
     • prime rib

Merlot Wine with breads:

     • baguette: French
     • bread: Tuscan
     • bread: rustic
     • multi-grain
     • sourdough

Merlot Wine with cheese:

     • Abbaye du Mont des Cats
     • Brillat Savarin
     • Comte
     • Gouda with cumin
     • Ardi-Gasna
     • cheese sandwich: grilled
     • cheddar: bacon
     • cheddar: smoked
     • cheddar: mild
     • cheddar: medium
     • cheddar: sharp: 1 year - 4 years
     • swiss: aged: 1 year
     • romano
     • cheddar
     • camembert
     • cheese: hard
     • parmesan

Merlot Wine with chicken/poultry:

     • duck
     • coq au vin
     • turkey, roasted
     • turkey with heavy sauces
     • goose
     • cornish hen
     • cold meats
     • chicken: marinated on the grill
     • chicken stir-fry
     • chicken: grilled
     • chicken
     • cornish game hen
     • partridge
     • chicken club sandwich
     • poultry or game: roast or casseroles
     • turkey, roasted with gravy

Merlot Wine with desserts:

     • chocolate: dark
     • chocolate milk
     • chocolate: bittersweet
     • fruit and chocolate
     • Easter bunnies: chocolate
     • Easter eggs: chocolate
     • Valentine’s Day hearts: chocolate
     • chocolate kisses
     • chocolate: dark/almond
     • mousse: chocolate (light)

Merlot Wine with ethnic dishes:

     • Indian dishes
     • curries: creamy
     • curry: coconut: mild
     • tandoori flavored dishes
     • curries: mild
     • quesadillas
     • borshch, beet soup
     • curries: spicy
     • Mexican dishes
     • tacos
     • chicken: butter
     • lamb korma
     • chicken: mourgh: Afghan

Merlot Wine with game:

     • squab
     • game birds
     • game terrine
     • boar: wild
     • partridge
     • pheasant
     • rich meat & game casseroles
     • meat & game: grilled
     • game: roast
     • venison
     • ostrich

Merlot Wine with goat:

     • goat

Merlot Wine with lamb:

     • lamb chops,grilled
     • lamb: Irish stew
     • lamb chops,steaks
     • lamb shank
     • lamb
     • lamb: rack
     • lamb: leg

Merlot Wine with pasta:

     • macaroni & cheese
     • pasta with herbed tomato sauce
     • pasta with bolognese sauce
     • carbonara sauce
     • stroganov: beef
     • lasagna

Merlot Wine with pizza:

     • pizza: fruit

Merlot Wine with pork:

     • pork chops: barbecued
     • cotechino
     • pork tenderloin
     • pork roast
     • pork

Merlot Wine with sauces, spices, herbs:

     • caraway
     • basil
     • rosemary
     • saffron
     • sauce: savory fruit , relish, chutney, fruit salsa
     • sauce: indian curry: southeast asia
     • sauce: wine reduction: wine-based marinade
     • nutmeg
     • juniper
     • all spice
     • cinnamon
     • marjoram
     • onion
     • oregano
     • paprika
     • peppercorn
     • sage
     • thyme

Merlot Wine with seafood & shellfish:

     • halibut: grilled: with rosemary
     • salmon
     • tuna: grilled
     • fish: barbecued
     • salmon: grilled

Merlot Wine with soups & stews:

     • stew: lamb

Merlot Wine with turkey holiday dinner:

     • turducken
     • turkey: roast
     • turkey sandwiches
     • turkey: white meat
     • turkey: dark meat

Merlot Wine with veal:

     • veal stuffed with sausage
     • veal: breaded cutlets
     • veal: roast
     • veal marsala
     • veal

Merlot Wine with vegetables & salads:

     • salad: beet
     • eggplant: baked or grilled
     • bean-based dishes
     • mushrooms
     • bell pepper


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