Merlot Wine Information
Merlot is the name of a red grape which traces its ancestry to the biturica variety. This was brought to France in the first century. From this stock came many of the varieties we know today - Cabernet, Malbec, and so on. The "Merlot" grape was not named as a distinct variety until the 1800s. It is known as a Noble Bordeaux varietal.
Merlot is not well suited for long aging, so until recently the wine made from merlot grapes was used solely as a blending wine. Soft and compliant, it was used to mix with Cabernet in the French Bordeaux wines. It would bring a more mellow aspect to these wines.
Recently, merlot has been discovered as a delicious wine in its own right. It is being grown for that purpose primarily in California and Chile, and in a few other wine regions. It tends to be more tolerant of soil conditions than a Cabernet vine is, and while it buds earlier, it also can be harvested earlier.
Not quite as harsh as other reds, merlot has less tannin than a Cabernet and can therefore be drunk earlier. It is mellow but still complex, a bit chewy. Merlot is known for the flavors of plums, black cherry, violets, and orange. It is a perfect match for beef and other medium-heavy dishes. Try some with a rich, red pasta dish, or even a heavy chicken dish. Merlot is also an excellent compliment to chocolate. Merlot should be served at 64F.
Merlot vaulted to infamy with the movie Sideways. The lead character in Sideways loved pinot noir and avidly hated merlot. He even said in one scene that he would leave a restaurant if someone ordered Merlot. Sadly, Merlot sales dropped after the movie came out - but have since regained their previous levels.
Bordeaux Wine Information
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