Taking you to easy street with today’s libation!
About the Grape
Merlot is one of the five red grapes of Bordeaux and is widely planted on BOTH banks because it is easy to grow. As a varietal wine, Merlot is silky smooth with an abundance of red and black fruits, and moderate tannins. Drink it young OR age it and it will probably be decent either way.
Why do so many people hate Merlot?!
In 2004, the movie Sideways came out and essentially praised Pinot Noir and trashed Merlot. Afterward, the decline in Merlot sales was so great that California producers removed their Merlot vines and replanted them with Cabernet Sauvignon.
If you are in the “never Merlot” camp, be careful! Some of the most expensive and greatest wines from around the world are Merlot dominant or have some Merlot blended in!
A Note About Tannins
Tannins are SO important for the balance in red wines. These are a type of polyphenol that is extracted from the stems, the skins, and the seeds during fermentation. (Oak tannins may also be present in wines that have been aged in oak for an extended period of time.) They bind with the protein in your saliva which causes a drying effect, and some studies suggest that tannic acid may reduce saliva production. You will feel their effects on your cheeks, gums, and tongue.
Tannins are water-soluble but are best extracted in alcohol solutions. In fact, the reason red wines are fermented at a higher temperature than whites (68º+ vs 50º+ ) is to extract tannin, color, and flavor.
In white wines, tannins are perceived as phenolic bitterness, and astringency in red wines. They can be described as: soft, chewy, or thick and pair well with textural foods like a fatty steak.