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Wine Pairings 101 – Merlot

January 9, 2009
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Merlot: soft tannins, dark fruit

The most popular red wine in the U.S. (the Sideways effect notwithstanding), Merlot has dark fruit flavors like Cabernet Sauvignon, but is generally a little rounder and softer

Swirl and taste: Blackberries, blueberries, plums, cassis, and dried cherries combined with chocolate, cedar, and tobacco and sometimes hints of black olive.

Merlot carries the same complex flavor package that Cabernet Sauvignon does, but generally has softer, mellower tannins.

Pair with:
• Tender, milder cuts of beef, such as tenderloin
• Lamb
• Meaty fish ― salmon, tuna
• Black olives
• Mushrooms
• Fresh herbs
• Grilled foods
• Meats with warm spices
• Meats with fruit sauces ― berries, dried cherries

MORE TASTING NOTES Merlot is the popular wine that it is partly because of its gentle reputation. But don’t write Merlot off as less than serious! The variety can be deeply concentrated, with firm, Cab-rivaling tannins ― especially Merlot from Washington state.

Perfect recipe pairings

Seafood and Vegetarian
• Tuna with Tomato-Caper Sauce
• Lentil and Sweet Potato Curry
• Cheddar-Garlic Portabella Soufflés
• Hot Plum and Spinach Salad

• Bistec Argentino al Chimichurri (Steak with Chimichurri Sauce)
• Skirt Steak with Mustard Sauce
• Garlic Flank Steak
• New York Strip Steaks with Orange and Oregano

Chicken, Pork, and Lamb
• Lamb Shanks with Olives and Capers
• Parmesan-Herb Lamb Chops with Mint Aioli
• Sherried Mushroom Chicken Scaloppine
• Pork Scaloppine with Plum-Port Sauce

• Beef Tenderloin with Fresh Herbs
• Pastel de Choclo (Beef and Corn Shepherd’s Pie)
• Plum Creek Cellars Grilled Tenderloin
• Hawaiian Beef Ribs
• Korean Barbecued Short Ribs
• Rancho Dagwood 1998

Source: Sunset
For more great food suggestions to pair with other wines, check out Riesling, Chardonnay, and Cabernet Sauvignon.

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