Red wines never go out of style as it is one of the most consumed beverages in the world. The fruity, sweet taste that the drink gives off is one reason why a lot of wine lovers stick to serving it at dinners, weddings and parties – not to forget chefs who have mastered the art of cooking with red wines.
However, while so many of us enjoy the sweet-sour taste that graces our palates, do we really know what our red wines are made of? Do we know what kind of red wine it is? Is it a Cabernet Sauvignon? Is it a Zinfandel? Or is it a Merlot?
Raised eyebrows right? Yes! Red wines are awesomely different depending on the grapes used in making it as well as the region the grapes come from.
So how much of Merlot wines do you know?
Merlot is second most popular grapes used in making our sweet red wines, after Cabernet Sauvignon. According to Wikipedia, Merlot was estimated to be the third most grown variety at 260,000 hectares (640,000 acres) globally, with an increasing trend as of 2004.
Merlot, which in French means The Little Blackbird, is believed to have been used first in wine making in the late 1700s when a French winemaker in the Bordeaux region formally labelled the grape as an ingredient in his Bordeaux wine blend.
It is a dark blue-coloured wine grape variety that is used as both a blending grape and for varietal wines. The inky, dark blue grapes produce a wine that can be soft and easy to drink. Wine drinkers who maybe fans of deep, dark fruit flavours and supple, velvety texture will definitely fall for merlot wines.
Generally, Merlot wines come either as a soft, fruity, smooth wine with very little tannins, or a fruity wine with much more tannins or a highly tannic, brawny, style made in the profile of Cabernet Sauvignon.
Merlot wines tend to mature faster than Cabernet Sauvignon, and can contain up to 13.5% alcohol, but can approach 14.5%, especially when it is grown in a warmer climate such as Australia, California or Chile.
In character, Merlot offers flavours of chocolate, plums, licorice, black cherries, blueberries, black raspberries and blackberries as well as jam, which depends on the levels of ripeness the fruit was allowed to achieve. It is round, fleshy and can be opulent in texture.
Forget the 2004 film Sideways and how it hurled the wine’s reputation, Merlot based wines are perfect for lunch or dinner, especially with its naturally soft textures and rich flavours going in tandem with a diverse array of foods.
Health wise, Merlot wines are rich in antioxidant resveratrol, a polyphenol that protects cells from infection and free radical damage. They are also good for the heart and contain probiotics which improves the bacterial lining in the large intestine, reduce cholesterol, boost immunity, and prevent cancer and other systemic conditions.