What to serve with Merlot wine?

What to serve with Merlot wine?

I’ve always recommended Merlot as the ideal wine to acclimatise new consumers of red wine. Whether it’s a friend broadening her horizons from white wine, or my dad leaving the beer and whisky world behind and getting into the wine arena, a Merlot is normally a good place to start. The classic Merlot grape originated from the Bordeaux region of France.

In using a sporting analogy I would usually refer to a Merlot as a cricket player – a wine full of finesse, culture, etiquette, almost gentlemanly, rather than some of the more robust characters which would be apparent in other red grapes. Owing to its soft and fruity character and “easy-drinking” status, the grape has been crowned  a favourite by many enthusiasts, ensuring a large following.

Red fruits, easy tannins and a soft finish are the general characteristics of a Merlot wine. But there’s more to Merlot than being smooth. When thinking of other descriptions most commonly used to describe a Merlot, Christmas cake comes to mind – yum!! A range of fresh flavours such as plums, cherries, blueberries and blackberries mixed with cocoa and black pepper tones often dominate this type of red wine. Merlot is popular as a companion to the very rowdy Cabernet Sauvignon or Cabernet Franc. In a Bordeaux-style red blend where the Cabernet’s, which give the backbone, are softened or mellowed a little, the Merlot rounds off the wine, enjoying more structure and definition.

Cool-climate Merlot is more structured with a higher presence of tannins and earthy flavours like tobacco and eucalyptus. Warm-climate Merlot wine is more fruit-forward and the tannin is less prevalent. Some producers use judicious oak-treatment of up to 24 months to give their Merlot wine more structure.

Merlot matches with a wide variety of foods because of its position in the middle of the red-wine spectrum. Enjoy it with a range of Italian dishes, especially tomato-based ones with pancetta/bacon, mushrooms and Parmesan.
http://checkers.co.za/foodandwine/Recipes/Mains/Pages/Herby-Tomato-Pasta.aspx#.U5DIbZSSzKw

Try this delicious Bredie
http://checkers.co.za/foodandwine/Recipes/Mains/Pages/tomato-bredie.aspx#.U5DIqpSSzKw

Great foods to pair Merlot with
Charcuterie (e.g. pâtés, terrines and salamis), spaghetti and meatballs, lasagne, cheeseburgers, bean dishes with chorizo, roast turkey, crispy duck or short rib.