Resveralife Eat Well: Merlot Food Pairing Guide
The Merlot grape is the second most prominent grape variety in the world when it comes to planting. Second only to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot is also the most consumed red wine in the United States. Often, what comes to mind when you hear the world Merlot are notes of red fruits, easy tannins, a velvety texture and a smooth finish. While it is often considered an “easy” drinking wine, Merlot can have concentrated, firm tannins that rival the best Cabernet Sauvignons. The majority of Merlot, however, is a lighter, fruitier wine that pairs well with a large variety of foods. Most Merlots feature flavors of:
- Black cherries
Merlots may also have hints of black olives, cedar, licorice and tobacco. The type of Merlot you drink will largely depend upon the climate in which it was grown. Cool climates yield a silky, soft-tannin Merlot while warmer climates lean towards a full-bodied, acidic Merlot. While Merlot is a joy to drink on its own, Resveralife has put together some foods that help bring out and enhance the flavors of Merlot.
Truthfully, Merlot and cheese are not the best pairing. Merlot pairs better with meatier, more substantial foods. However, that does not mean you can’t pair Merlot with cheeses. Here are some well-paired cheeses for Merlot:
- Smoked Cheddar
- Smoked Provolone
Merlot is a highly versatile wine and pairs with a number of dinner options from hearty vegetarian dishes to meals featuring red meat. One of the easiest food pairings is a classic, thick and juicy hamburger. If you prefer a cheeseburger, add some medium sharp cheddar to your burger. Another relatively easy to make dish is classic spaghetti and meatballs. Not only are the meatballs a great accompaniment to Merlot, but the tomato sauce cuts through the acidity of Merlot as well. You can also create a charcuterie platter that features an assortment of smoked meats.
For vegetarians and others who enjoy main courses that use vegetables as the center, there are multiple Merlot pairings that you can create. One of the tastiest vegetarian dishes is to create a vegetable red curry. The vegetables you choose are completely up to you, but some suggestions are eggplant, potato, and asparagus. Another great vegetarian pairing for Merlot is eggplant rollatini. This blends creamy, tomato based sauce and eggplant for a dish that seems made for Merlot.
As a general rule when pairing food and wine, desserts are paired with dessert wines, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a Merlot with sweet foods. A fruit tray full of blackberries, red grapes, black cherries and plum is a perfect end to a meal served with Merlot. You could also serve Merlot with a creamy dark chocolate mousse topped with blackberries and raspberries.
Merlot is an incredibly popular wine worldwide and with the generous pairings the wine allows it is no surprise that people love to drink it. Experiment with Merlots produced in different climates for the full effect of what the Merlot grape is capable of. Remember that when it comes to wine and food, the most important rule to follow is to eat, and drink, what you like.