Meritage Wine Information
Meritage is pronounced MEH-rih-tij, rhyming with Heritage. This is a made-up word, registered as a US trademark, that wineries must pay to use on their wines. It is NOT a French word, and it is NOT pronounced "meh-rih-TAAAGGHHHE" as one might expect if it was a French word.
Back in 1989, US wineries were all choosing names for their various blended wines, and it was getting hard to keep track of them all. An association was formed to try to define a "Bordeaux Blend" of grapes that was done on non-French soil. They had over 6,000 people submit choices for the name of this blend, and "Meritage" won. This is a deliberate combination of the words "Merit" and "Heritage". Therefore its pronunciation sounds like those two words. It shouldn't be pronounced as if it were French.
What is in Meritage?
First off, in order to earn the name "meritage" the wine can't be a mass-marketed wine. The winery's release of Meritage must be under 25,000 cases. It has to be a "high-end" wine for the winery - it can't be their bargain basement offering.
Most importantly, the meritage has to be a blend of certain grapes. These are: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot.
There is also a white Meritage, which is far less common. This uses Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, and Muscadelle.
How does Meritage Taste?
A meritage tastes just like Bordeaux, since it's made with the same grapes!! There's a rich, full aroma to it. Depending on the particular blend, it can be blackberry, black cherry, spices, chocolate, and vanilla. Most Meritages have the Bordeaux signature flavors - cigar box, rich fruits, with a hefty feel. It's great with a steak, or with game meats - venison, pheasant, or so on!
I happen to love the flavor of meritage wines, and will seek them out at restaurants.
Meritage should be served at 64F for the best flavor.
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