Merlot is one of the most popular red wines across the globe and is undoubtedly the world’s third prominently produced grapes.
Merlot wines are made from red-skinned grapes that adapt well to a variety of climates and produce soft, sensual texture and an approachable style.
With merlot wines, there is something for everyone which makes the merlot the go-to wine.
Below is a lowdown of everything you need to know about the merlot;
- Why the name “merlot”
The name “merle” is a French word for a little blackbird.
Merlot is also used to refer to a red grape variety used to make wine around the world.
It is believed that the first time the grapes were used to make wine was in the late 70s by a winemaker in the Bordeaux region which is arguably the most well-known wine region in the world.
- Characteristic of the merlot
Merlots are typically dry wines with a medium-to-full body.
They are characterised by their easy tannins and the soft finish of the wine.
The merlot has always played a major role in Bordeaux and has become known for its unique ability to add softness and luscious fruit to a wine when it was combined with the region’s favourite grape, Cabernet Sauvignon.
The combination of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot complemented each other so well that this blend became world-renowned.
The best merlot is without a doubt the Château Pétrus wine which is produced in a vineyard located in the wine-growing region of Pomerol in Bordeaux.
This winery has created one of the most exceptional red wines in the world using a single varietal of merlot grapes.
Château Pétrus wine is one of the most celebrated and privileged wines of Bordeaux for its exceptional quality and character.
- How the Merlot is made
The process of producing a merlot starts at the vineyard with the grapes being harvested and pressed before fermentation.
Before the process begins, the wine owner needs to ascertain if the wine is going to be a single varietal or blended wine with other grape varieties.
For the latter, it should be determined beforehand if the blending will be done before or after the fermentation.
Some wine producers ferment and age the different grapes separately and mix them before bottling while others let the blend occur in oak barrels after the fermentation is complete.
To create sweet wines, the wine is interrupted before fermentation finishes leaving more residual sugar.
Dry wines are made when the winemaker allows fermentation to run its course producing lower sugar levels.
- Merlot flavours
The flavours that merlot emits vary slightly depending on the wine regions, climate and the specific winemaking process.
Nevertheless, merlots are easy-drinking reds that go well both with food as well as on their own.
Grapes produced under cool climates are more structured with high levels of tennis giving off early flavours such as tobacco and tar whereas those produced in warm climates have more fruity flavours and the tannin is less prevalent.
- Tips to enjoy the Merlot
Before you pop that cork, it’s important to consider how you store your wine.
Contrary to popular belief, red wines should not always be served at room temperatures.
Merlot is best when served chilled as warm wine tends to feel flabby and bitter that tastes overly alcoholic.
A Bordeaux glass is perfect for merlot wines as they have a smaller bowl that intensifies the complexity of aromas and the tall glass allows one to swirl the wine before sipping which allows the wine to breathe and release its fragrant notes.