Best Australian Merlot
From humble beginnings to a top contender, Merlot has seen significant growth in a relatively short lifespan, becoming a red that is favoured across the globe. It is a French varietal that is being championed in Australia with local winemakers applying a unique spin, and the results are frequently delicious.
Merlot is rumoured to have first been planted in 1923, although its story officially kicks off in 1965 when Merlot grapes were imported from California, not France. Merlot kept a low profile for decades until the early 1990s. The Aussie wine scene saw tremendous growth and the influx of winemakers began expanding into new varietals.
By 2016, Australia was crushing an incredible 112,000 tonnes of Merlot grapes, growing from just 1000 tonnes crushed in 1987. Today, Merlot remains one of the most popular red varieties and its future continues to look bright.
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What does Australian Merlot taste like?
Coming in shy of full-bodied Shiraz, but carrying more weight that Pinot Noir, Merlot skirts a middle ground. Experience suggestions of plum, mulberry and fruitcake, raspberry, cherry, violet, spice and dried herb hints, maybe even chocolate and olive from the oak input.
Merlot tends to be soft, plump and juicy and ultimately worthy of plenty of attention. It is often regarded as an entry-level red for white wine drinkers.
Best Australian Merlot wine regions
Grown in most Australian wine regions, Merlot thrives in those possessing a moderate-to-warm climate like the Barossa Valley and Geographe. It grows well on deep, sandy loams and well-drained soils that have great moisture-holding capacity. Merlot does possess a reputation for being difficult to grow. The soil, drainage, amount of wind and sunshine all need to be perfect or else the grapes may not fully ripen, resulting in a bitter, sour taste.
Best food pairings for Australian Merlot
Merlot pairs incredibly well with foods of the world and its medium-weight makes it appealing to even the most discerning wine lovers. Merlot is an excellent food-friendly wine thanks to its medium-body and acidity. It pairs well with lighter meats like duck and pork. Crack a bottle with a simple slow-cooked favourite or share with the family at the table while enjoying a tomato-based pasta dish like Bolognese or a gnocchi creation.
Mild, mature cheddar cheese as part of a lighter grazing plate served with quince paste, and other nibbles are great alternate pairings.
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Wine Glass for Merlot
Overall, red wines are best served in larger-bowled glasses, and there are generally two red wine glass shapes - Bordeaux and Burgundy. The larger bowl of red wine glasses, allows you to not only get your nose in to smell the aromas, but it also brings more air into contact with the wine, releasing the flavours and softening the tannins.
The Bordeaux glass is great for an all-round, everyday red wine glass and perfect for Merlot.. The characteristic tall shape, open bowl and straight sides allow plenty of surface area for the wine to come into contact with the air unlocking the flavours of wines.
Explore our guide to wine glasses here