Guest post by Pete Wise
Back in 1990, the major news outlets started touting the benefits of drinking red wine, and its effects on your health. Championed mostly by women looking for a wine that didn’t taste quite as strong as Cabernets, Pinot Noir, and Zinfandels; Merlot became the fashionable choice, and vineyards started advertising this to women across the country.
Unfortunately, the best part of Merlot, its smoothness, becomes a weakness when you start looking for a Merlot under $25 a bottle. The reason for this is that Merlot grapes have to be carefully monitored and harvested at the opportune time. If this isn’t done correctly, you can be left with a wine that is far too soft for a Merlot, and tastes like ground veggies.
Merlot grapes are widely planted throughout France, Italy, and California. Often used to soften the body of many Cabernets, this grape is finally being perfected and bottles are being produced without the hefty price tag. For the top Merlot grapes in the world, your bottle should be produced in France, Northern Italy, California, Argentina, Chile, or Australia. With the interest in Merlot being new (in terms of wine-years) there are many new ways that bottlers are experimenting with this wine. For the most part, you can find awesome deals on Merlot, but some of the best bottles are still extremely expensive.
There are a few options available for those that want to serve a Merlot with confidence that won’t hurt your pocketbook.
1) Bogle Merlot – Bogle is a California Vinyard known for their growing quality. This Merlot is very early with almost a taste of mushrooms. It is a very light wine, and perfectly suited to pair with a heavy meal, such as a stew or steak. This bottle is usually between 7 and 10 dollars, and is a great find if you see it in your local liquor store.
2) Casillero del Diablo Merlot – This Chilean Vinyard has one of the biggest distribution networks in the world, which would usually lead to lower quality wines; in this case, not so. This Merlot is very sharp, with a really strong taste and mellow body. At $10 a bottle, this is not going to break the bank, and pair really well with most red meats.
3) Wild Oak Merlot – Another California Merlot, this one is similar to the Bogle discussed earlier. This wine is extremely dark and rich; with the same earthy taste expected of Merlots. What Wild Oak does better than anyone is infuse their wines with subtle flavors. This Merlot has the sharp taste of pepper, and an aftertaste of cherry, a really delicious wine for around $12.
4) McManis Family Vineyard Merlot – Of all of the Merlots I tried for this article, this one took the cake. This wine has hints of vanilla and plums in a medium-bodied wine. The aftertaste of this wine is unlike any other on the list, very fruity, and it stays with you for a long time. This is a supremely balanced wine all around, and could drink these bottles for ages. At $9 – $10 per bottle, this is the wine I normally serve with a pasta and red sauce.
Pete Wise is a Wine Enthusiast and Content Creation Specialist working with LiquorMart of Boulder, CO. LiquorMart offers Wine Delivery to Nebraska and a half-dozen other states in the US. If you need to buy wine online in Nebraska, head to their website and have it shipped to your house for free! If you liked the article, check out Pete on Twitter: @MySEOHeadache