|1. Planeta||2. Luigi Bosca||3. Garzon|
Merlot, which translates charmingly from French as“The Little Blackbird”, is one of the most highly-consumed red wines in the world. It produces approaches soft, elegant, ripe wines that are easy to pair with food and are ideal for someone who is just starting on their wine exploration journey.
This does not mean to say that Merlot wines lack depth or character though. Far from it. This plum and plummy varietal have the versatility to be crafted into a range of wine styles that appeal to different pockets and palates.
Early budding and ripening, it is famously cultivated in Bordeaux, France where it softens Cabernet Sauvignon in the Haut-Médoc and leads in Saint-Émilion and Pomerol blends. Here, it tends toward a fresh fruit personality with vegetal notes with medium body and alcohol. Its international style displays concentrated blackberry and plum, toasty notes courtesy of oak, and soft, velvety tannins.
In the winery, Merlot usually undergoes pre-fermentation maceration for greater flavor and color extraction. Maturation in oak adds complexity and spice. The result is a dry medium to full-bodied wine with gentle tannins tempered by a clean fruitiness and gentle acidity.
A delightful wine, if you are already in love with Merlot and want to try other reds that have a similar identity, we can point you in the right direction with the following wines.
Top 4 Best Wine Similar To Merlot 2021
1. Nero d’Avola
With its plummy, black fruit tones, medium tannins, and soft acidity, Nero d’Avola is an easy-drinking wine, but do not let that deceive you. Hailing for sunny Sicily, it has layers of light complexity that make it an interesting as well as an enjoyable varietal, and a great alternative for Merlot lovers.
Planeta, named after a beautiful purple wildflower that grows around this Italian isle, offers a soft, fruit-forward styled of this Sicilian grape that goes down well with food or by itself. Its round-edge tannins and gentle oak finish it off perfectly.
It is produced in stainless steel for the preservation of its bright fruit and is then aged in oak for ten months.
It loves food with smoky tones so pair it with grilled meats. Its sweetness makes it perfect for dishes with rich sauces.
Malbec is grown in many Old and New World wine regions with southwest France and Argentina the most famous. The French style tends to be very lean and tannic while the personality of the wine from Argentina is the kind that can appeal to Merlot fans. It leans toward intense fruit flavors of RedPlum and blueberry with a touch of herbaceousness, cocoa, and a silky, lush mouthfeel.
If this sounds like an ideal alternative to Merlot for you, why not try Luigi? This Argentinean red is purply red in hue with concentrated aromas of fruit, spice, and flora tones. On the palate, it is smooth with developing tannins and a clean, refreshing profile in a generous body. Fermented in stainless steel for bright fruit flavors, it is aged in oak for 12 months, which gives it a lovely, grippy feel.
All in all, an ideal choice for Merlot drinkers, this red calls out for meat dishes like rib-eye steak and savory potatoes prepared with rosemary.
Merlot fans will easily fall in love with the Tannat grape. The most widely planted grape in Uruguay which produces world-class examples of this powerful red, it boasts the kind of red and black fruit and body that you find in Merlot. It also adds a little more to the mix with spice, heady tobacco notes, and rich dark chocolate.
A fabulous choice is Bodega. It has a light and elegant nose with fresh red cherries and strawberries plus ripe black plums. These favors broaden on a spicy palate leading to a long, lively finish. One of the best features of this wine is its structure courtesy of 12 to 18 months aging in untoasted French oak.
It matches lamb and duck dishes that highlight its spicy character. It also pairs like a dream with aged cheeses and vegetarian dishes that have heavy tomato sauces.
You do not often hear about successful crossbreeds of grapes but Pinotage, a signature grape of South Africa, is one of the glowing exceptions. It is the result of a 1925 cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsault that has taken the wine world by storm and continues to produce some of the best wines in South Africa. Just a glance at these intensely fruity grapes will give something for Merlot fans to get excited about but why the name Pinotage? In South Africa, Cinsault is called Hermitage so Pinotage is a cross (like the grape!)between this and Pinot Noir.
Pinotage wines are typically deep red with notes of bramble and tropical fruit which is what makes it a candidate for a Merlot alternative. However, this South African classic has smokier, earthier notes than a typical Merlot making it an exciting choice to explore.
An excellent choice is Barista Pinotage because it offers the fruit of Merlot and heady mocha for that extra burst of flavor. Maraschino cherry, ripe mulberry, and plum all come together on a bed of rich coffee, chocolate, and sweet vanilla. Soft and luscious, this wine has an appealing youth that is reminiscent of Merlot.
Pair with duck breast, pork belly, or a pizza loaded with your favorite toppings. This Pinotage can also stand up to blue cheese and goes hand in hand with chocolate and coffee-based desserts.
Merlot is above all an intensely fruity, gently tannic, balanced wine and these characteristics are what makes it so yummy to its legions of fans. These alternative varietals offer plenty in the way of the flavor, texture, and body that make Merlot so popular. They also offer their own unique features, giving them an adventurous feel without taking a Merlot lover too far off the beaten track.
Enjoy these alternatives to “The Little Blackbird”. Cheers!