Story by Sarah Murphy Robertson
I am a movie buff and enjoy watching films almost as much as I like experiencing food and wine…almost. In 2004, the comedy Sideways had an Academy Award nomination but one line in that movie stuck in all wine lovers’ memories: “I’m not drinking any (insert expletive) Merlot!” While overproduction in the early 2000s caused some criticism for Merlot wines to be warranted, the resulting backlash was extreme. Merlot is a delicious, versatile wine. This medium-bodied wine often has notes of red berry,cherry, and plum, as well as hints of spice, cedar, and chocolate.
In France, the grape is typically blended with Cabernet Sauvignon to make Bordeaux. Domestically, you’ll see great 100% Merlot wines from California and Washington. So don’t let Paul Giamati’s soundbite deter you. You can enjoy Merlot with many types of cuisines and here are a few recommendations to get you started.
The Merlot grape was the key fruit in the founding of Revelry Vintners out of Washington State. Their 2013 Merlot is balanced and well rounded with deep flavors of blackberry, blueberry and cherry and a subtle oak backdrop. It would pair nicely with a hearty vegetable dish like ratatouille – made with tomato, eggplant, zucchini, and bell peppers.
The 2012 Los Amigos Ranch Estate Hook & Ladder wine is aged for more than a year and a half in California in oak barrels. You’ll taste rich black cherry with a hint of cinnamon and cloves in each dark magenta glass. Enjoy this wine with bold Italian sauced dishes that have a kick: like a briny putanesca or spicy arrabbiata. It is smooth and balanced and will play nicely with the heat.
The French 2010 Boutisse St Emilion Bordeaux is like velvet. It has notes of dark berries and plum and a smokey finish reminiscent of campfire. This full bodied red blend would go well with a beautiful cut of beef be it braised or grilled. Serve this bottle the next time you entertain a small group and it will ensure your guests want to drink more Merlot instead of less!
We’d love to hear if you try any of our suggestions or let us know your favorite Merlot or Merlot Blend.