Merlot is one of the most planted red wine grapes in the world. Even in the post-“Sideways” world where the grape took a beating by the movie’s characters, the characteristics that made this grape one held by all in high esteem still exist. It is unfair to jump to conclusions and single out any grape as being pedestrian, yet Merlot seems to have taken a lot of the brunt of criticism.
The Merlot grape, like many, can make fine wines for daily drinking and those sought out by collectors for their fine pedigree. Many of today’s best-selling red blends contain Merlot as their backbone and some of the highest priced wines in the world (Château Pétrus in Bordeaux for example) count on great Merlot as a reason for their being.
For many long-time wine enthusiasts Merlot can be a comfort zone, a return to base, to recalibrate their palates with a familiar flavor profile. The plush, velvety tannins, ripe dark berry and plum flavors, and spicecake-like mid-palate offer a lot to like.
So here is an ode to Merlot. We know you well, and though we do not always sing your praises, we must give you your due as one of the greats.