How to Pick the Best Merlot for any Budget

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Red wine is a drink that has been enjoyed by people of various cultures for thousands of years. Made from a variety of grapes, it obtains its color or shades of red and even dark purple, during the fermenting process from the skin mixing with the juice.

Glass of red merlot wine and some fruits bottle of wine cheese against a brick wall.

Red wines come in varietals and bodies. Varietal is just a word to describe the various wines that are obtained from specific varieties of grapes. Examples of varietal styles include: Merlot, Chardonnay, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Bodies are classified as light, medium, and full. Also, wines are characterized by the amount of tannins.

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Tannin refers to the “pucker power,” and its flavor comes from seeds, skin, and the stems. Often you will find that the tannins are stronger in younger examples.

Merlot can be considered medium or full bodied and has smooth tannins. This beverage will also have a dry taste and unlike most wines, Merlot is best when it’s young, rather than aging for some time. A typical example will have grape scent to it, accompanied with a floral presence.

Some various flavors of include: cedar, green olive, tobacco, black pepper, mint, ect. The fruits can range from cherries, plum, raspberries, and black berries.

Merlot comes from Berdou, a region located in France. It is now grown all throughout the world. In American, it is grown in Washington, Texas, and California. Australia, France, and South America are all areas where this style is grown and is quite popular in most locations across the globe.

When it comes to making Merlot, the grapes ripen much quicker than you would find for other wines. They are hand or machine picked and then fermented in wooden casks or in tanks.

The fermentation can last anywhere from 7 to 18 days. After this, the liquid is stored in oak barrels or chips. This is where the drink will age. Depending on who is making the drink, typical aging is from 6 months to 18 months.

Finally, the beverage is bottled.

When serving Merlot, there are several things to keep in mind. First, one of the best parings with this red wine is with lamb or, some other type of red meat. You will want to serve it at a temperature just below room temperature, usually around 56°-58°F.

Next, you will want to decant the bottle, which simply means pouring the liquid into a decanter or a large glass (see image). Wait about 15 minutes before pouring the beverage into a glass, one that is deep and wide, with a rim that is slightly smaller.

Make sure the glass is only about 1/3 full, swirl the drink, holding it by the stem so that the heat from your hand does not warm the liquid. Be sure to first take a small sip and hold in your mouth for a few seconds.

If for some reason you spill your drink, there are several ways to remove the stain but, washing it first with white wine will neutralize the red, and take most of that stain out. Follow up with soaking it with some club soda.

Red wines, like Merlot, are said to be good for your overall heath, as they provide high amounts of antioxidants. If drunk in moderation, about a glass per day is said to help with protecting against certain cancers, heart disease, and positively affecting a person’s blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

2010 Old Oak Merlot on rustic wood table in front of fade peachy cream plaster wall

2010 Old Oak Merlot 750 mL

Another great thing about this style is that you can enjoy it on any budget. If you are looking for a high end, expensive Merlot, for about $200, you might want to try the 2010 Old Oak Merlot; it has a very complex flavor with hint of blackberry, vanilla, and cherry.

It’s sweet but not too sweet making it a perfect drink to serve with food. The reviewers on Amazon have nothing but praise for it. Moreover, this wine is eligible for 1 cent shipping from the big A.

2010 Naked Winery Merlot Bottle on rustic table in front of old plaster peachy cream colored wall

2010 Naked Winery Merlot 750 mL

 For a great example priced around  $25, the 2010 Naked Winery Merlot is recommended.

It has a nice medium body with earthy black cherries and plum tones. It’s soft tannins make for a drink with absolutely no bitterness and it’s slightly sweeter taste makes it the perfect desert beverage. You can watch a video about this vintage at the link below.

For the less expensive examples, you might want to avoid ones that do not provide a cork but, a twist off cap. These tend to give the drinker a hangover more often. Enjoy your Merlot in moderation.

About Lynne Jaques

Lynne is a stay-at-home mother of two boys. As a former US military officer and the spouse of an active duty US military member, Lynne enjoys traveling the world (although not the moving part!) and finding new cuisine and methods of preparing food. She also has the habit of using parenthesis way too much!

8 thoughts on “How to Pick the Best Merlot for any Budget”

  1. I would say the twist cap tip is true. I may have experienced that hanover in my younger years!

    This was a great Merlot overview. When I first started drinking wine all of the information was very overwhelming. I still not sure my palate is as sophisticated as it should be but I think that comes with time.

  2. Jhoover85 I agree with you about the overwhelming amount of information there is out there to accompany drinking wine.When I walk into the store I just kind of stand there in front of the wine and stare. But hey, now I know to avoid the twist off caps! Each time I read one of your post I constantly finding myself taking away some bit of useful information. 🙂

  3. Great information! I love this advice. I totally agree with everything. Being a wine drinker I think this information will help me lots. I love a nice glass of merlot in the evening, especially with red meat. I don’t like cheap bottles either. I think its important that your variety goes well with what you are eating.

  4. I love a glass of merlot every now and again. I’ve only ever distinguished between the wines by price. I’ll have to keep all of this in mind next time I buy some. Thank you for the information!

  5. Thanks for this indispensible guide, whilst I do enjoy a glass of Merlot, I know very little about wine in general.

  6. My husband I started experimenting with vino not too long ago. We enjoy trying new things and learning more about it. This type is very nice, but yeah, I wouldn’t buy any bottle of any type with a screw on cap.

    A new retailer in the area has tastings on occasion (nothing formal), where you can sample a few different types or different brands of a certain type. It’s quite nice to be able to try a good variety without having to purchase all those extra bottles to do so.

    I’ve also asked the advice of shopkeepers, but mainly we go online and do a bit of research first. I’ll add this article to my folder. Thanks.

  7. Merlot’s are my favorite actually..just a hint of sweet mixed with the tart taste. I don’t go for the more fruity tasting wine..I feel like it may be loaded with sugar and not exactly good for me. There are many red whines that I adore..and no…twist off caps are not included…that is just downright cheap.

  8. Thanks Lynne for the great article. I am a red wine drinker and experiment with different wines a lot. I do like to pair my wine with the type of food I am preparing. A merlot is one of my favourites because it has a full flavour to it. It also suits a variety of dishes.


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