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Merlot has been a popular grape for over 200 years. Why, you ask? Because it’s remarkably smooth for a red wine. But what do we mean by smooth merlot? It’s about the level of acidity. The smoothest wine has a texture akin to milk, while the most acidic can feel as tart as biting into a lemon. Merlot leans slightly towards the milk side, with a moderate acidity that’s less pronounced than in varietals like Cabernet Sauvignon.

So, what does less acidity mean for you? It means you can enjoy Merlot on its own without needing food to balance it out. It causes less palate fatigue because its structure isn’t as drying or as sharply acidic as some other grapes. This is why Merlot is often recommended as a starter red wine. However, “starter” doesn’t imply it lacks sophistication. Depending on where it’s grown, Merlot can offer extraordinary complexity in its flavors.

Merlot’s smooth texture makes it a versatile companion to many meals, being unfussy in its pairings. Moreover, Merlot is second only to Cabernet Sauvignon in terms of production and it is used in some of the most coveted blends in world renowned regions like Bordeaux. Its soothing and emulsifying nature, along with its flourishing aromatics, make it a perfect blending partner.

Common foods that pair well with Merlot include poultry, like turkey and chicken, pork, spaghetti and meatballs, lamb, and portobello mushrooms. Merlot doesn’t require a rich meal but pairs beautifully with hearty dishes. Its adaptability and smoothness make it an easy favorite at the dinner table. 

Furthermore, Merlot’s versatility extends to cheese pairings as well. It matches well with a variety of cheeses, from mild options like mozzarella and brie to more robust choices like aged cheddar and Gouda. This makes it an excellent choice for wine and cheese parties, where its balanced acidity and rich flavors can complement an array of snacks and hors d’oeuvres. Find how to curate your ideal charcuterie mix here or follow this prebuilt recipe here

Whether it’s with food or without, Merlot’s smooth, less acidic nature, combined with its complex flavor profile and versatility, makes it a beloved choice for wine enthusiasts around the world. Enjoyed it on its own, as part of a blend, or paired with a hearty meal. Its rich history and enduring popularity are testaments to its exceptional qualities and universal appeal. Merlot continues to be a staple in the world of wine.