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Merlot

An easy-going red variety with generous fruit and a supple texture...

An easy-going red variety with generous fruit and a supple texture, Merlot’s subtle tannins make it perfect for early drinking and allow it to pair with a wide range of foods. One simply needs to look to Bordeaux to understand Merlot's status as a noble variety. On the region’s Right Bank, it dominates in blends with Cabernet Franc, and on the Left Bank, it plays a supporting role to (and helps soften) Cabernet Sauvignon—in both cases resulting in some of the longest-lived and highest-quality wines in the world. They are often emulated elsewhere in Bordeaux-style blends, particularly in California’s Napa Valley, where Merlot also frequently shines on its own.

In the Glass

Merlot is known for its soft, silky texture and approachable flavors of ripe plum, red and black cherry, and raspberry. In a cool climate, you may find earthier notes alongside dried herbs, tobacco, and tar, while Merlot from warmer regions is generally more straightforward and fruit-focused.

Perfect Pairings

Lamb with Merlot is an ideal match—the sweetness of the meat picks up on the sweet fruit flavors of the wine to create a harmonious balance. Merlot’s gentle tannins allow for a hint of spice and its medium weight and bright acidity permit the possibilities of simple pizza or pasta with red sauce—overall, an extremely versatile food wine.

Sommelier Secret

Since the release of the 2004 film Sideways, Merlot's repuation has taken a big hit, and more than a decade later has yet to fully recover, though it is on its way. What many viewers didn't realize was that as much as Miles derided the variety, the prized wine of his collection—a 1961 Château Cheval Blanc—is made from a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc.

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  • Petrolo Galatrona 2013
    Merlot from Tuscany, Italy
    • JS98
    • RP97
    • W&S94
    • WS92
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    105
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  • Beringer Howell Mountain Bancroft Ranch Merlot 2012
    Merlot from Howell Mountain, Napa Valley, California
    • WS92
    • RP90
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  • Frog's Leap Merlot (1.5 Liter Magnum) 2013
    Merlot from Rutherford, Napa Valley, California
    • WW92
    • WE90
    Currently Unavailable $69.99
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  • Mt. Brave Merlot 2013
    Merlot from Napa Valley, California
    • RP94
    • V93
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  • Paloma Spring Mountain Merlot 1998
    Merlot from Spring Mountain District, Napa Valley, California
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    • Paloma Spring Mountain Merlot 2002
      Merlot from Napa Valley, California
      • WE94
      • WS93
      Currently Unavailable $79.97
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    • Paloma Spring Mountain Merlot 2003
      Merlot from Napa Valley, California
      • WS90
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    • Switchback Ridge Peterson Family Vineyard Merlot 2002
      Merlot from Napa Valley, California
      • RP92
      • WS91
      Currently Unavailable $69.97
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    • Paloma Spring Mountain Merlot 1997
      Merlot from Spring Mountain District, Napa Valley, California
      • V92
      Currently Unavailable $61.97
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    • Switchback Ridge Peterson Family Vineyard Merlot 2000
      Merlot from Napa Valley, California
      • WE92
      • WS92
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