Archive for September, 2010

13
Sep
10

MERLOT: ONCE A BRIDESMAID, NOW A BRIDE

Why, we might ask, has Merlot (pronounced MER-LOW) zoomed up in popularity as America’s number one choice among red wine varietals in the last ten years? It’s because consumers prize the wine’s fruitiness, mellow flavors, and velvety texture. This grape is valued for its generally attractive deep ruby color, sometimes tinged with purple. Merlot’s yummy flavors of red fruit, berries, black cherries and plums with an occasional hint of spice make it a ubiquitous match to veal, pork, beef and game. Let’s not forget how well it partners with pasta. Merlot is a fabulous choice when diners play menu roulette by ordering unmatched courses that presents a challenge to finding a wine that will make everyone happy. For many years, the wine was a second-stringer, the bridesmaid that never made it to the high altar. Often used as a blending partner where it softens the harsher qualities of Cabernet Sauvignons and is most often a major conmponent in the classic Bordeaux blend. Merlot becomes the dominant player in Bordeaux appellations of St. Emilion and Pomerol where the wines are more feminine and delicate than those in which Cabernet Sauvignon reigns.

Winemakers unleashed Merlot’s softer, more accessible flavors by vinifying alone. Merlot’s unaggressive tannins makes it user-friendly. Most Merlots are ready for drinking without being aged for a long time. Therefore, they rarely need decanting. Serve them at cellar temperature of around 65 degrees.

Because Merlot is holding its own as the current red wine sweetheart, producers have come into the market at affordable price points from many wine-producing regions around the globe including the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Italy, France, Chile, and Argentina. Merlots from different regions vary in style depending on the winemaker’s skill and philosophy as well as the overall conditions of sun, soil, and rainfall.