Merlot is one of the world’s most popular red wines, and America’s second favorite after Cabernet Sauvignon. Known for its soft, sensual texture and approachable style, it’s made from red-skinned grapes that can adapt to a variety of climates to produce food-friendly wines in many price points. Merlot can be velvety and plummy, or rich and oaky. There’s something for everyone, which is why Merlot is adored.
What does “Merlot” mean?
The word Merlot is French for “the little blackbird.” Merlot also refers to a red grape variety used to make wine around the world.
What does Merlot taste like?
Merlot is known as a chameleon because it adapts to many climates, taking on the character of both its location and winemaking techniques. However, great Merlot is not as easy to grow as people thought, leading to overplanting and an abundance of poor quality wines. Typically, Merlot is a dry, medium- to full-bodied wine with moderate acidity, moderate to high alcohol, and soft but present tannins. The best Merlot taste has a range of flavors, ranging from graphite, herbs and blackberries, to black cherries, plums, and cocoa, often layered with notes of clove, vanilla, and cedar when aged in oak.
What is the color of Merlot?
Merlot has a red color because it’s made with red-skinned grapes. When youthful, wines can be semi-opaque to opaque, and deep ruby red. The color is generally lighter than Cabernet Sauvignon and deeper than Pinot Noir. One indicator that you’ve got Merlot in the glass is the glint of brick/orange tones on the rim. Merlot color changes with age, losing pigmentation and brightness, and turning garnet. Though not very common, Merlot is also used to produce both rosé and white wines.
How much alcohol does a bottle of Merlot have?
The alcohol in Merlot depends on where it’s grown, as climate influences ripeness, which influences alcohol levels. Merlot from cooler regions like France often have 13–14% alcohol by volume (abv), but can approach 14.5% when it is grown in a warmer climate such as California, Chile and Australia.
Is Merlot sweet or dry?
Merlot is usually made in a dry style. Keep in mind, the impression of tasting ripe fruit flavors like cherries and plums is not the same as tasting sweetness due to sugar content. A dry wine means that after the grapes are pressed, the sugar from the grape must is converted into alcohol by yeast. When all, or nearly all, the sugar is converted, it creates a fully dry wine. Sometimes, a little sugar called residual sugar (RS), is left behind. This might be purposeful, to give a hint of richness and sweetness to the wine, or it might be because the yeast didn’t finish the fermentation. A few grams per liter of RS is still considered a dry wine, however.a