How Does Merlot Wine Taste?

by Hunter Robillard

Merlot is the second most widely planted red wine grape in the world, after Cabernet Sauvignon. 

It’s used to make red wine blends and single varietal wine styles with luscious fruit flavors and sensual textures.

Explore the Merlot wine taste, calories, and food pairings in detail. Also, discover the differences between the Merlot grape variety, the Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, and how New World Merlot is different from Old World Merlot.

Further reading

What Does Merlot Wine Taste Like?


Merlot is a medium to full-bodied dry red wine with mild acidity and smooth tannins. 

While a cool climate Merlot has an alcohol content of 13 - 14%, Merlot from warmer climates has around 14.5% ABV. 

The wine has seductive dark fruit flavors of black cherry and plum, along with vanilla and cedar notes. These are often accompanied by underlayers of herbs, tobacco, licorice, and red fruit. 

However, the taste of a Merlot wine depends mainly on where it’s grown and the winemaking techniques.

The Taste of Old World and New World Merlot Wines


The Merlot grape was initially grown in the Bordeaux region of France, from where it spread to other countries. 

Depending on the region, the taste of Merlot wine varies as follows: 

1. Old World Merlot


These are Merlot wines from Italy, France (Bordeaux), Spain, and other European countries. They have more dominant earthy flavors, strong acidity, minerality, and tannins. The winemakers use oak barrels for aging.In France, Merlot is also used in the traditional Bordeaux blend wines. The Bordeaux red wine blend also contains Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec in different proportions. A Bordeaux red wine blend usually has dominant flavors of black currant, plum, graphite, cedar, and violet.

2. New World Merlot


Merlot red wine is also produced in the US (Napa Valley and Sonoma), Chile, Argentina, Australia, and New Zealand. 

A Chilean Merlot or a California Merlot usually has richer fruity notes, less astringent mouthfeel, and stronger oak notes than an Old World Merlot.

How Many Calories Does Merlot Have?


The calories in a Merlot wine depend on its residual sugar levels. 

Usually, a 5-ounce serving of Merlot has 125 calories, and a 750ml bottle has 625 calories.

Merlot Wine Serving and Food Pairings


This dry wine is best served at 60 - 65 °F. 

Merlot wine pairs best with chicken, duck, pasta, burgers, and pizza. 

Fuller-bodied Merlot wines with high alcohol content and rich red fruit flavors can handle more savory meats like beef, lamb, venison, and bison.

How Is Merlot Different From Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir?


Both Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot originate from the same parent grape variety - Cabernet Franc. 

But, compared to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot is slightly less astringent due to its thinner grape skin and fewer tannins. Also, Merlot has richer fruit notes and a less complex body.  

Compared to the Pinot Noir grape variety, the Merlot grape has more tannins and produces wines with higher alcohol content, more refined complexity, and a darker hue. 

A Pinot Noir wine generally has a lighter color, lower alcohol content, softer tannin mouthfeel, and higher acidity.

Add A Luscious Merlot Wine To Your Cellar Now!

Merlot wines are dry, fruity with balanced acidity, tannin, and alcohol levels. Their delightful aroma and delicious taste will leave any wine drinker wanting more.   

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