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Money Can't Buy Happiness but It Can Buy the Best Merlots

  1. Petrolo Galatrona Merlot
  2. Liberty School Merlot
  3. Frei Brothers Dry Creek Valley Merlot
  4. Francis Coppola Diamond Merlot
  5. Buyer's Guide

The third-most planted wine grape in the world, merlot is popular both as a stand-alone varietal and as a blending grape. This grape is native to Bordeaux, France, but has been grown throughout warmer European areas for around 200 years. Now, merlot has made its way all over the world and is popular in the Americas, Southern Africa, Australia, and New Zealand. A relatively subtle grape with less tannin than the closely related cabernet sauvignon, wine made solely from merlot grapes tends to be fruity and smooth and usually won't hold up to many years of cellaring, reaching its peak after 5 to 15 years. Of course, there are some exceptional merlots that continue to mature for many decades.

There are two main styles of best merlots in 2022: the Old World style— which makes use of earlier harvests in order to emphasize soft fruit flavors— and the New World. Old World wines are lower in alcohol than New World style merlots; New World merlot grapes are often left on the vines a little longer, giving them a chance to develop a more concentrated flavor and an increased sugar content. The extra sugar in the grapes does not lead to a sweet wine but is instead metabolized by the yeast in order to make a wine with a higher alcohol content preferred by many New World drinkers. These wines have jammier flavors with an emphasis on plum and blackberry, and more soft tannins that give them more body than their Old World counterparts.

No matter what type of wine you prefer, we have done the research to come up with a comprehensive list of the best merlots of this year. They vary in region, flavors, and price, so you're bound to find something suitable for your taste and budget. Take a look at our favorites below.

Detailing the Best Merlots of 2022

best merlot

Petrolo Galatrona Merlot - Best Merlot Overall

Hailing from Tuscany, an appellation in Italy that's known for producing excellent Merlot, Petrolo Galatrona is our favorite Merlot. Though it's a little on the pricey side, it's worth the extra money and really is superb. It scores in the mid to high 90's with wine critics and is well-loved by wine enthusiasts. Though it's made by an Old World vintner, this wine shows off the big fruit flavors and silky smooth tannins praised by New World wine enthusiasts. The flavors include black cherry, blackberry, and chocolate, as well as a hint of acidic olive. It's finished with a malolactic fermentation that gives it a buttery mouthfeel. Galatrona is exquisite right now but won't reach its peak for at least a few more years. It'll be at its best between 2022 and 2033.

best merlot wine

Liberty School Merlot - Consider

An award winning wine from the Central Coast of California, Liberty School Merlot is one of the best Merlots around, and at under $20, it's also one of the best buys. This wine is softer than many California Merlots, with aromas of strawberry, cherry, and violet, and flavors of plum, and raspberry. This wine doesn't change much in character from first sip to the end of the long finish, giving it a great consistency that makes it incredibly drinkable. The tannins are also smooth and soft enough that they don't overpower the wine.

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Frei Brothers Dry Creek Valley Merlot - Best Merlot under $20

Made in the classic New World style, Frei Brothers Dry Creek Valley Merlot is one of our Best Picks. This wine is made from 88 percent Merlot, with 8 percent Cabernet Sauvignon and 4 percent Petite Sirah for extra structure and body. Though the Merlot grapes are blended with a couple more powerful varietals, this wine is still classic Merlot and shows off the soft, supple character of this wine. You'll taste plum and jammy blackberry in this wine, as well as subtle notes of milk chocolate and medium-roasted coffee. The aroma is also complex and well-balanced, with just a hint of sweet red licorice. It can be kept in the cellar for a couple years, but this wine is ready to drink right away.

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Francis Coppola Diamond Merlot - Best Merlot under $20

Coppola may be new to the world of winemaking by European standards, but this winery has made quite the name for itself over the past two decades. The Francis Coppola Diamond Merlot is an excellent one and one of our Best Picks. Sourced from vineyards in Napa, Sonoma, and Monterey Counties, Coppola is able to choose the best grapes grown each year to make each new edition of this well-crafted, affordable wine. Like most New World Merlots, this wine has flavors of plum and raspberry, aromas of berry, vanilla, and leather, and extra-soft tannins that give it plenty of structure without the dry bite that unrestrained tannins can cause.

Buyer's Guide

If you're not going by popularity trends or the gossip of the town, let us assure you that merlot is not overhyped without justification. Merlot grapes are very adaptable, owing to their capacity for producing high-quality wines in a number of styles. This collection combines fruity cherry, blackberry, and plum notes with earthier wood, tobacco leaf, bell pepper, and chocolate undertones. This guide includes essential information about buying the best merlots.

What Are the Flavor Characteristics of Merlot?

Being a dry wine, merlot has a low tannin content. This results in a smoother, less bitter taste, making merlot softer and more approachable than many other varietals. Merlot wine's most distinctive flavor and fragrance are those of fruit like blueberry and plum. Merlot frequently exhibits raspberry aromas in addition to black cherry and even jam. Many merlots have a fruitcake fragrance as a result of these characteristics.

On the other hand, merlot wines can have a wide variety of tastes. Merlot grapes thrive in two distinct climatic zones: cool and hot. These words are highly subjective in the world of wine. 60 degrees Fahrenheit is considered "warm" by Old World growers, yet the same temperature is considered "cold" by many New World growers. The following sections discuss the general distinctions between merlot cultivated in cool and warm regions.

Cool-climate merlot

Merlot is a typical cool-climate variety. These strains originate in the hills of Chile, France, and Italy. You will find that these merlots exhibit strong, earthy tastes such as tobacco, bell pepper, and tar. Due to their greater tannin content, these merlots are sometimes confused with cabernet sauvignon, their regional cousin.

Warm-climate merlot

Merlots grown in warm climates exhibit prominent fruit flavors and lighter-bodied properties. These wines, which are grown in the sun-drenched regions of California, Australia, and Argentina, have a reduced tannin content and a smoother finish. Merlots from California's Paso Robles are considered classic warm-climate merlots.

How is Merlot Best Served?

Merlots mix very well with a wide variety of meals because of their reduced acidity and lovely fruity sweetness. Unlike heavier red wines that are frequently paired with red meat, merlot pairs well with chicken and pasta meals. However, because various merlots match well with different meals, we've divided our merlot pairing recommendations into three main categories: light-bodied mixes, medium-bodied blends, and full-bodied blends.

Light-bodied merlots

These merlots pair well with the dishes that contain toasted cheese. Merlots with a softer texture go well with pasta and other tomato-based dishes, especially when paired with earthy tastes like mushrooms.

A light merlot may be the ideal summer red wine to pair with light summer fares such as grilled chicken or veggies such as zucchini, peppers, and eggplant. Merlots with a lighter body also mix nicely with charcuterie spreads.

Medium-bodied merlots

These go nicely with somewhat heavier foods like Italian sausages and meatballs. Along with meatloaf and casseroles, baked pasta dishes and veggies make a reliable combination. Additionally, cheeseburgers pair well with a medium-bodied merlot.

Merlots in the medium range also pair nicely with spicy meals such as jambalaya and bean dishes. Consider serving a medium-bodied merlot with grilled fish or fruity meals.

Heavy-bodied merlots

Traditional or full-bodied merlots pair nicely with the majority of roasted meats. Grilled pork chops with thyme make an excellent match for a full-bodied merlot. When combining traditional merlots with meats, make sure the foods are minimally spiced to avoid overpowering the wine. If you're serving a heartier dish or one with a stronger spice profile, a merlot-dominated mix may be the best option.

Which Features of Merlot Make it One-Of-A-Kind?

Color

The hue of Merlot wine can range from a dark, impenetrable purple to a delicate, pale cherry. Its color varies as it ages, from vibrant, young tones of red to old garnet or brown.

Tannin levels


Have you ever experienced a drying sensation on your tongue after tasting certain wines?

The polyphenols that are usually found in the seeds, skin, and other parts of grapes give this bitter and drying sensation. It contributes to the texture, structure, and age-ability of red wine.

Tannins become more mellow as the wine matures. This is why young, tannic wines taste better after a few years in the bottle.

Flavors


The many grape varieties used to make merlot wines provide an array of smells and tastes reminiscent of fruits, herbs, flowers, spices, and earthy components.

These are not added to the wine; they are derived organically from the acids and grape skins. Merlot contains flavors of black cherry, raspberry, tar, and even tobacco.

Acidity

Acidity is a critical component in wine, acting as a preservative and imparting a sense of freshness and structure.

You can tell if a wine has acidity by how tart or sour it is in comparison to the other sweet, bitter, or tannic components.

How Much Do Merlots Cost?

Merlots can be found on the market for as low as $10 and as high as $300 or even more. Merlot is also renowned for its compatibility with other wines. It is a component in several mixes. Merlot is frequently blended with cabernet franc or cabernet sauvignon by winemakers for better taste. Merlot's propensity to mix well with other wines has resulted in its inclusion in a number of high-end wines.

Best Merlots FAQs

Q: Where do the finest merlots originate?

A: Merlot is produced in a variety of countries, including France, the United States, Italy, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, Bulgaria, and even China.

Q: Which wine is more refined, merlot or pinot noir?

A: Pinot noir has a more assertive taste and a brighter hue than Merlot. Merlot has a moderate flavor and smells of blackberries, blueberries, plums, and a few floral notes, with less tannin and acidity than cabernet sauvignon. It is darker in color than pinot noir and has a smoother appearance. It also has a greater percentage of alcohol.

Q: Why does merlot have such a terrible rap?

A: Merlot is not necessarily terrible. When mass-produced, it may create a somewhat forgettable wine, and a small number of mass-producers have done significant damage to the reputation of an otherwise exceedingly noble grape. But, merlot is not a terrible wine and is worth a taste.

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