Updated: Jan 16, 2021
"You had me at Merlot", "Merlot-ho-ho", "How Merlot can you go?"...<insert cheeky Merlot phrase here> because October is Merlot month and we're about to celebrate in the new old-fashioned way...by drinking it, of course!
If you're new around here; welcome! I'm just your average Jane who happens to love wine and I blog about it to keep myself sane during these seemingly endless months of quarantine. I'm glad we found each other so we can learn a lot of cool stuff about wine together!
Merlot; ok, first of all I need to address the elephant in the room: YES it had a bad reputation for a spell, but don't let Paul Giamatti influence your standpoint on this grape just yet...there is a lot to appreciate about Merlot, which perhaps explains why the entire month of October is designated to upholding its honor.
What is Merlot? It's a fair question. Merlot is the second most popular red wine grape grown in the world (after Cabernet Sauvignon). French for "the little blackbird" this fruit likely derives its name either from its dark blue/black color, or after the pesky little birds that take a liking to it. Either way, Merlot is actually a relative of Cabernet Sauvignon, and is often mistaken for such in blind tastings!
Adding to the confusion, Merlot is often blended with Cabernet. In fact, these two grapes make up the two main ingredients in the infamous Bordeaux blend that is now highly coveted by wine drinkers around the world. Fun fact: one of the most expensive and elusive Bordeaux blends, Chateau Petrus, is made almost entirely of Merlot grapes and runs an average of about $2,630 per bottle. We'd better start saving now if we want to get our hands on this pricey little prize.
Merlot is referred to as "the Easy Red" since it's so smooth and approachable. Sometimes, the only "tell" in a blind taste when compared to Cabernet Sauvignon is the softer tannins that grace the plum, dark fruit, and mocha-like notes. Merlot is also a great wine to pair with food: from pizza to braised beef, to mushrooms, cheeses, pork, and lamb - the possibilities are endless!
So why on earth would stubborn Miles (from the 2004 film Sideways) tank Merlot sales by upwards of $400M by stating, and I quote: "If anyone orders Merlot, I'm leaving; I am NOT drinking any (expletive) Merlot!"
We may never know the answer to this age-old question. Perhaps he was brutally attacked by a dog named Merlot as a child, or maybe he just drank waaaay too much of it in college and can no longer bear the thought of passing one more single drop down the ol' hatch. You can theorize as much as I can, but the point is: pick up a bottle of Merlot this October, pair with it something delicious, and enjoy the smooth body and soft tannins this little gem has to offer.
This week, I am holding #napastrong with a 2013 Merlot produced by Vintner Joseph Carr and winemaker Aaron Pott. The back label boasts just one word "Share", and that's just what I intend to do.
Find me on Instagram @thecandidcork and check out my WOTW highlight reel to watch me sample this (as well as previous) WOTW features. I save them all to my highlights so you can come back to them once you've procured the bottle so we can taste and experience them together (but apart) - anyone else getting sick of this phrase!?
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Cheers, Corkers, and Happy Merlot Month!