Merlot for mofos
Picture a mountain. It takes an hour to climb it and an hour to go around it. Every hundred years a little blackbird (a merlot, in French) comes and sharpens its beak on the mountain, and when the entire mountain is chiselled away, the first second of eternity will have passed… and your wine nerd friend might by then no longer be talking about how the film Sideways ruined merlot for them. Forget that, here’s the real need to know when it comes to merlot.
Why mofos like merlot
Us mofos have a lot of time for merlot - we recognise it for what it is, a team player. It parks itself firmly between camps and strikes a balance between most things us wine loving ‘Fos are looking for - classic merlot sits between your lighter reds (like pinot noir) and heavier, fuller bodied wines (like its classic dance partner, cab sav). This balance makes it more versatile than you’d think, and it does well at the dinner table.
Check out: Chateau Brown Pessac-Leognan 2016
What to expect with a merlot
Flavours and aromas of merlot tend to typically be on the red fruited side for cooler climate examples - think strawberry, cherry, raspberry, red plum - with warmer climates capable of giving merlot darker, more concentrated fruit (think black plum and blackberry).
Its medium to medium-high levels of acid, tannin and body helps add a levity to its darker, more brooding cousins like cab sav when they’re blended together. Merlot is also almost always oaked by winemakers to bring out classically stylistic flavours and aromas of vanilla and cloves.
Check out: Château Hautes Versannes Saint-Emilion 2020
What temperature should I serve merlot at?
Nothing complicated here - room temperature is great for merlot, 15-19°C.
What foods pair with merlot?
It’s easy to be sceptical of anything that sits on the fence, but the great thing about being considered “middle of the road” is that merlot can steer in whichever direction you choose without upsetting the rest of your passengers at the table.
Merlot from Chile, Italy and France (considered as “cooler climate” for Merlot) do well with leaner meats and grilled or roasted veggies - so your roast chicken, or grilled pork.
For merlot from warmer climes (we’re talking California, Argentina and Oz), the more darkly fruited richness adds succulence to your darker meat and umami pairings - so roast beef, portobello mushroom, kangaroo, duck or game all get a fair look in.
Both camps do well with cheese and charcuterie, though play your pairing by the selection - for lighter cheeses/selections go cooler climate merlot; for your bigger, riper cheesy hitters head for where it's warm.
When should I be drinking merlot?
Given the above, you can see why merlot is a great choice for an easy Sunday roast wine with the fam; it plays well with the food likely to be on offer and it’s unlikely to offend.
However, we can do better than that - it’s the perfect Chinatown BYO wine. Merlot, meet plum sauce, meet hoisin crispy duck, meet sweet and sour pork. See you at Shanghai Village?