The Merlot grape variety is among the most popular and famous in the world, rivaled only by Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir. The home of the best Merlot wines in the world is Bordeaux in the southwest of France, especially the wine regions of Saint-Emilion and Pomerol. Perhaps the best example of a high-quality Merlot is Petrus, which comes from the Pomerol region of Bordeaux.
In France, Merlot is easily the most popular red grape variety. It has also established enormous popularity in Italy. Ever since the late 1980s and early 1990s, Merlot has also become one of the most popular red grape varieties in the United States, especially in California and Washington State, where Merlot is easily the rival of Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir. Worldwide, it is possible to find excellent examples of Merlot in places such as Chile, especially the Colchagua Valley.
Merlot wines typically have a smooth, rounded and easy drinking character. In fact, Merlot wines are known more for their texture than their flavor or taste. That characteristic makes Merlot a near-perfect blending wine, especially when combined with grape varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon. In fact, the Merlot-Cabernet Sauvignon blend has resulted in some of the world’s best wines.
In terms of food pairings, Merlot goes especially well with meats such as veal and pork. In Italy, for example, a pairing of Merlot with osso buco (braised lamb shanks) would be a natural, while in Brazil, a natural pairing might include the national pork and black bean stew known as feijoada.