Merlot It's so Smooth

" I like Merlot."  There I said it.  Bucking the trend in this pod cast we highlight Merlot, the wine that the movie Sideways kicked off the stage.  These days the trendy wine set wouldn't be caught in public with a glass of Merlot in their hands, yet for as unfashionable as Merlot has become there's a substantial amount of it grown worldwide.
After experiencing a protracted run of popularity through the eighties and nineties, punctuated with over-planting, overproduction and overpricing Merlot now enjoys a comfortable co- starring role in the wine world.  An important part of France's Bordeaux Blend ( Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot ), Merlot is estimated to be the third most grown grape globally.  Wine types and brands go through cycles of popularity ( IE White Zinfandel, Mateus Rose and Blue Nun ) and Merlot in the end seems to have benefited from the spotlight.  With wine producers and grape growers chasing the latest wines of fashion those that continue to cultivate Merlot are producing wine that represent better consistency, quality and better value than in the past.  Just what we're looking for at Vino 101.
Chances are that eight dollar bottle of Merlot you find at your local grocer ( Please consider buying your wines at a reliable wine retailer ) is likely to be made in a simple, plain and smooth style with no rough edges.  Nothing wrong with that but you can get so much more flavor and pleasure by spending a little more.  To experience good quality Merlot you need to spend around thirteen to twenty dollars.  You can spend a lot more, but the top price you pay won't always translate to a wine that delivers the most satisfaction.
Pinot Noir usually gets all the praise for being the great translator of terroir, however Merlot which is climate sensitive can speak well of where it is grown and the differences in wine raised in cool climates versus warm climates can be striking.  Merlot has more body than Pinot Noir and less body and tannin than Cabernet Sauvignon.  The color ranges from medium to dark, with low to medium tannins and a soft texture.  Typical aroma and flavors of Merlot grown in cool climates are red berry fruit, mint, green olive and bell pepper.  In warmer climates you will notice blackberry fruits, plum, blueberry, caramel and chocolate.  Merlot doesn't bowl you over with intense aromas or flavors like a Zinfandel or a Cabernet Sauvignon.  The appeal of Merlot is it's structure or mouth feel.  In a word it's smooth and that's why so much of it is produced worldwide.
For this show we profiled ten Merlots priced from eight to twenty-five dollars.  Your best insight into what Merlot can bring to the table is to use the contrast and compare method.  Purchase several Merlots from different areas, invite some friends over and pop some corks.  Tasting the wines side by side helps to accentuate the differences and similarities of the wines.
Thanks to all for your support and feedback.  Enjoy the cast.