Imagine this – sweet dark cherry combined with plummy tartness, spiced up with some mocha, clove and vanilla racing between the fruit flavors. Even though it sounds like a gourmet recipe for a fruit tart, it’s actually what’s floating in 50 million glass bottles around the world. Merlot is a noble grape, and the varietal is celebrated this October, during International Merlot Month!
Delicate tannins and a plush finish are the loveable aspects of Merlot. But there’s more to Merlot than being smooth; because its acidity is mild, as are its tannins, and because its fruit-forward sweetness is evident, it might also be what ushers millennials into wine country. It’s the perfect gap between the sweet Lambrusco young palates seek and the tannic, earthy reds of the sommelier’s taste.
Merlot is the highest planted grape variety in France… What’s not fancy about that? It’s also a bit temperamental. It’s a lot harder to grow than Cabernet, due to its thin skin. Being so sensitive to its environment has an upside though – it ripens two weeks earlier than Cab! During a wet harvest, one week can make or break it things. Merlot is also super sensitive to light, and Merlot-based wines often have an orange glow on the rim…. this rim is what differentiates it from Cabernet.
Despite the ‘Sideways Effect,’ Merlot is still noble (and apparently Paul Giamatti actually drinks Merlot regularly) and shouldn’t be considered as second tier because commercial wineries have sold it out. We at ABC still regard it as a premier food wine and enjoy pairing it with everything under the sun—except for fish and leafy greens.
The “Merlot Movement” is something to get very excited about because Merlot offers something for every palate, every level of wine-o and every budget. The hashtag #merlotme is the tool to show the world your glass of vino. Just get some Merlot, share your preferences with the #merlotme hashtag and see what others are saying about their glass of Merlot!
Over 84 wineries are participating, but #MerlotMe can be celebrated with any glass of this lush liquid! Find a bottle here.
Allie Smallwood, ABC Fine Wine & Spirits marketing copywriter