Wine has long been considered a luxury item, but today it’s enjoyed by millions of people around the globe. Whether you enjoy drinking the popular beverage at home or going out to restaurants, you should always look for the best possible wine.
There are thousands of varieties of grapes grown worldwide which come from a wide range of different regions and climates. This is essentially what gives each bottle of wine its unique flavor profile.
Merlot grapes are among some of the most popular, contributing to stunning, well-structured bottles of wine that are enjoyed by people all over the world.
In this guide, we’ll take a closer look at 18 of the best Merlot wines you should try, including all the information you need to know about their origin, flavor profile, and the best foods to pair them with.
We’ll also look to answer a number of the frequently asked questions related to the popular red wine (see also our article on Cannonau wine).
OUR TOP PICK
OUR TOP PICK
The Tempest, from the Realm Cellars in California, is the first Merlot on our list. This wonderful red is inspired by Bordeaux and combines a diverse range of grapes to create a great bottle of Merlot.
Merlot grapes are used in the wine, but it is also surrounded by Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petit Verdot, resulting in a complex but stunning end product.
The drink's fresh, energizing character is the first thing you'll notice, but it quickly gives way to a variety of spicy blackberry, blueberry, and black cherry flavors, as well as a pleasant hint of violets and smoke.
Furthermore, all of these flavors are intertwined with extended, fine-grained tannins.
Whether you’re hosting a wine and cheese night or cooking up a delicious skirt steak for your partner, this next bottle of wine makes the perfect accompaniment.
Long Meadow’s Ranch Merlot is a varietal which provides the ideal balance between tannins, fruit, and flawless acidity. It also has a distinct aroma that’ll remind you of a forest in the autumn months, with cracked black pepper and a delicious scent of blueberry.
In terms of the palate, it’s both elegant and powerful, as the fruit core of the wine demonstrates impressive strength and harmony.
So, if some of your other favorite red wines include Sangiovese and Cabernet Franc, the Long Meadow Ranch Merlot 2016 will be right up your street!
This well-rounded Merlot from Barefoot is plush, perfectly balanced, and a true crowd pleaser, providing the ideal drink whether you’re drinking it on its own, with a wine and cheese board, or with a home-cooked meal.
The bottle is packed with notes of blueberry jam and layers of light oak, which both persist through the smooth, lingering finish of the versatile drink.
Furthermore, the medium body of this Merlot makes it a great match with just about any food pairing - so no matter what you’ve got in your fridge and cupboards, you’ll be good to go!
The next wine on our list is perhaps one of the purest bottles of Merlot you’ll come across, and one that won’t break your budget.
Not only does Sotheby’s Saint-Emilion provide an elegant and fruit-forward Merlot that’ll fill your insides with pleasure, the concentrated cherry and cranberry aroma of the drink is equally delicious.
In terms of the palate, this wine features a unique pop of cola and a beautifully-balanced tannin structure that’ll firmly grip your palate and then gently release.
If you like other wines such as Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc, you’ll be sure to love the Saint-Emilion 2017!
This fantastic Messorio Merlot comes straight from Tuscany and is the flagship wine of Le Macchiole - a highly reputable Italian winery.
With predominant tasting notes of burnt oranges, black olives, dark fruits, and walnuts, this Messorio is silky, juicy, and vibrant.
It also provides a perfect dose of delineated flavors and smooth, velvety textures. Safe to say, there are few Merlots more impressive than this one.
Three Wishes’ Merlot is a full-bodied red wine that provides a captivating scent of blackcurrant and ripe plum. What’s more, this is complemented by a toasty oak finish which lingers for just the right amount of time.
To maximize the delicious and pleasurable taste of this smooth Merlot, try pairing it with either rosemary-rubbed prime rib or your go-to charcuterie board.
Three Wishes Vineyards also craft a superb Cabernet Sauvignon, as well as a host of other award-winning wines, so if you like their Merlot, you’ll be spoiled for choice!
This elegant American Merlot is perfect for dinner parties with friends and family. After aging for a year or two, the Mount Veeder Merlot from Mayacamas will provide you with a silky, medium-bodied beverage with delicious blueberry and vanilla aromas.
Furthermore, the wine has an excellent tannin structure, as well as good acidity to lift off the palate. If you enjoy other red wines such as Sangiovese and Pinot Noir, you’ll be in your element with this American Merlot!
This wine might be one of the more expensive options on the list, but it’s certainly worth it, so don’t be afraid to treat yourself.
Even if you’re not a particularly big fan of Merlot, you’ll have to give this bottle a try. The Sidekick Merlot is an impressive Californian red that’s composed mainly of Merlot and 15% Cabernet Franc.
What makes this wine so special is the soft, plush texture of Merlot that effortlessly washes over your palate, while the warm tasting notes of wood smoke, black pepper, and cedar swim through the wine.
To maximize your enjoyment of this delicious Merlot, it’s recommended that you pair it with either roast chicken or lean steak. However, if you’re after something a little lighter and more sociable, a plate of local meats and cheeses is also a good option.
If you like other red wines such as Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, you’ll be sure to love the Iconic Wines Sidekick Merlot 2017!
Hahn Estate grows its fruit on California’s central coast, where the cool and breezy conditions are perfect for Merlot grapes. Therefore, unsurprisingly, their Merlot is one of the very best wines they produce.
The wine is aged in French oak barrels to provide the beverage with a distinct texture and flavor.
Furthermore, the classic aromas and tasting notes of the Merlot (vanilla, plum, dark chocolate, and mint), as well as the savory black olive finish, all contribute to a thoroughly enjoyable drink.
The next Merlot on our list is this offering from Bogle which is great for pretty much any occasion or food pairing. It’s aged for up to 12 months in American oak barrels to produce a delicious, full-bodied red wine.
Bogle is a family-owned winery, making this particular Merlot all the more appealing. The winery has been open since 1968, and over fifty years later, it still remains firmly committed to producing high-quality wine.
While Bogle’s Merlot is suitable with just about any food pairing, some of the most popular include aged white cheddar, margherita pizza, and cheeseburgers.
While most of the wine in Virginia is only available via e-commerce, there are some bottles, such as this offering from King Family Vineyards, that are well worth your time and money.
This particular Bordeaux-style red is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Malbec, providing good depth of flavor and some spectacular aromas (including blackberries, cassis, and cracked black pepper).
The alcohol percentage of the Meritage 2016 is just under 14%, making it perfect for the full layers of the drink to be appreciated. If you’re looking for the ideal accompaniment to pair this red with, look no further than a traditional steak dinner.
The delicious Leonetti Merlot is 100% Merlot and made in the Walla Walla Valley in Washington. The best thing about this magnificent wine is that Leonetti follows the very best practices - making sure their Merlot grapes grow in the coolest appellations with heavier soils.
With strong tasting notes of cherry, plum, black licorice, and cocoa, this silky Merlot is one of the best bottles you can add to your wine shelf.
Moreover, Leonetti has a rich history for producing some of the region’s most structured and beautiful wines - so you’re in extremely safe hands.
This next Merlot is from the Colchagua Valley in central Chile, and is a smooth, full-bodied wine that’ll be sure to get your taste buds tingling.
The name Caliterra is a fusion of the Spanish words “calidad” (quality) and “tierra” (land), highlighting the vineyard’s focus on sustainability.
The wine itself is fruit-driven, bursting with concentrated flavors of dark plum and red cherry. It also provides delicious touches of gentle spice and a smooth, long finish, making it the perfect accompaniment for roasted or grilled beef and chicken.
If you’re someone who enjoys collecting wines, this next Merlot will definitely be of interest to you.
It might not be the cheapest on our list, but with the wine grapes grown in a UNESCO World Heritage Site since the eighth century, this delicious wine is the ultimate novelty for collectors.
In terms of its taste, the predominant notes are raspberry, blackberry, and vanilla, which give the acidity of the wine an added boost.
The impressive beverage is also framed by rich, burly tannins and some delightful tinges of savory oak spice - a definite all-rounder!
The next wine on our list is a little different to many of the others. This Merlot goes through a unique rum barrel aging process, making it an excellent choice if you want to add some mulled spices over the winter months.
Not only is this wine perfect for making mulled wine, the powerful tasting notes of oak, vanilla, plum, and coconut - in addition to the strong influence of rum - make this Merlot a delicious beverage to be enjoyed all-year-round.
Duckhorn is one of the first producers of a single-vineyard Merlot in California, with the secret of their success mainly due to the volcanic rock which absorbs the heat of the day, protecting Merlot grapes from cold weather and allowing them to continue ripening overnight.
Delicious notes of vanilla and oak roll straight off the tongue, before being complemented further by deeper hues of blackberry and plum. The overall taste of the wine is bold and dry with a tiny hint of acidity, while the elegant finish is to die for.
The Sonoma County Merlot from Decoy is a fantastic wine with enticing cassis and berry aromas. These aromas are complemented by oak-inspired notes, lively acidity, silky well-structured tannins, and a long, juicy finish - a true all-rounder!
To maximize the gorgeous flavor and texture of this Merlot, some of the best food accompaniments include grilled lamb, duck, beef, mushrooms, wild rice, rosemary, and aged cheddar.
The final Merlot wine on our list, and by certainly no means the least, is the incredible Estate Vineyard Merlot from Gundlach-Bundschu. This classic and full-bodied American Merlot provides a strong palate, while still retaining a nice, silky mouthfeel.
To maximize the tasting notes of this Merlot, it’s a good idea to pair it with light meats such as roasted chicken. However, it’s also perfect for dinner parties and cheese and wine nights, so the options are pretty much endless.
Furthermore, if you like similar red wines such as Cabernet Franc and Zinfandel, the Estate Vineyard Merlot from Gundlach-Bundschu will be right up your street!
Frequently Asked Questions
How Do You Pick A Good Merlot?
The vast majority of Merlot wines are considered medium or full-bodied, and have smooth tannins. This wine will also provide a dry taste, and unlike other wines, is best when it’s young, rather than going through a period of aging.
A typical example of a good Merlot is one which has a strong grape scent, as well as an accompanying floral presence. If you have both of these, you’ll be in luck.
Which Country Produces The Best Merlot Wine?
While Merlot is produced in lots of different countries around the world, the best place is Bordeaux in France, due to the fact that it’s the birthplace of the grape and is home to some of the most iconic Merlots.
Is Merlot Heavy Or Light?
Wines with an alcohol by volume (ABV) of 12.5% to 13.5% are typically considered medium-bodied. Some of the most common examples of medium-bodied wines include Rose, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc.
However, wines with an ABV above 13.5% are instead considered full-bodied. Some of the most popular wine varieties that are considered full-bodied include Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Malbec.
Why Are Some Wines Noble And Others Aren't?
A noble wine is one which comes from a region where the soil and climate are ideal for growing grapes. These wines tend to be more expensive than other types because they're made in small quantities.
Furthermore, most of them are labeled as "noble" when they have a specific designation such as "Grand Cru Classé."
What Does VQA Mean?
VQA stands for Vin de Qualité Supérieure in French or Wine of Superior Quality in English. It's a label regularly used on French wines that are produced in designated areas.
There are two levels: A and B. The level A indicates the highest level of quality, while B is just narrowly above that.
How Do I Know Which Kind Of Wine To Buy?
It might sound incredibly obvious, but the first thing to do when buying wine is to check the back label. Here you'll find information about the vineyard, the winery, the vintage date, and the alcohol content.
It’s also a good idea to look for the name of the grape varietal, which will tell you what kind of wine you're getting. For example, if you see Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon listed, then you’ll know you're getting a red wine.
Should Merlot Be Refrigerated?
It’s widely considered that red wine should always be kept at room temperature. However, while it might seem incredibly counterintuitive, it’s sometimes a good idea to chill your red wines (including Merlot).
You should still keep Merlot stored at room temperature as usual, but around 45 minutes before opening and serving, place the bottle in the fridge to achieve the best possible temperature.
Is Merlot Considered A Bad Wine?
No, as this guide has demonstrated, Merlot is one of the very best wines. Not only is the Merlot grape delicious-tasting, it also produces wines that are well-structured, have the perfect acidity, and wines that are pleasant on both the palate and nose.
However, it’s worth keeping in mind that while there isn’t anything inherently wrong with Merlot, it can sometimes be a rather forgettable wine when it’s mass produced.
Therefore, so long as you avoid these mass produced varieties, the reputation of Merlot is incredibly high.
Is Merlot A Good Beginner Wine?
When starting to drink wine, it’s best to be safe and stick to wines that have easily identifiable grapes on the bottle. For example, grape varieties such as Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Pinot Noir are always good choices.
The Bottom Line
To conclude, there are lots of excellent Merlots across the world - all with different origins and qualities. While you might already be familiar with a few, it’s always good to step out of your comfort zone and try new wines with different combinations of flavors and aromas.
Hopefully, after reading the information in this guide, you’ll be in a much better position to identify and try some of the best Merlot wines in the world!
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