For many wine lovers, Merlot is a top choice and a go-to vintage for any occasion whether it is for a nice formal dinner or evenings when they want to relax and unwind. For some of us though, we may simply know the name “Merlot” and that is just about where our knowledge on Merlot ends. We are going to look at what a Merlot is and other interesting things you need to know about this vintage and exactly what makes it so special.

A brief history on Merlot

The word Merlot is coined from the French word merlue which means Blackbird, it is associated with the grape because of the colors of its skin and the colors of the little birds who like to eat the fruit. The grape is quite popular for being elegant, soft and early ripening and is one of the two most popular grapes in America second to Cabernet Sauvignon. A French winemaker is believed to be the first person to use this grape in winemaking in the 17th century when he added them into his Bordeaux wine blend. It became popular as a wine ingredient that added softness to Cabernet Sauvignon in different Bordeaux regions and because of how well they went together, they became the staple ingredients for the wildly popular Bordeaux blend. By the 19th century, it was discovered that Merlot made a beautiful varietal wine on its own and winemakers stopped using it only as a blend with Cabernet Sauvignon as people loved the fruity softness and low tannin levels of 100% Merlot wine.

Approximately How many acres/hectare are planted globally

Merlots are one of the most grown varieties of grapes and as at the year 2015, approximately 266,000 hectares, that is 660,000 acres were grown worldwide. Merlot is grown in countries all over the world like Chile, Italy, France, Australia, and America. The climate of the areas they are planted to affect the way they taste and what time they are harvested. Grapes grown in cool climates tend to have plum, strawberry and cedar notes while grapes grown in warm climates have a blackberry, black plum, and blackberry notes, and grapes grown in hot climates, on the other hand, have a fruitcake and chocolate like character.

Wine colors of Merlot

The color of a wine is one of the quickest ways to recognize a vintage and the wine colors of Merlot are usually a dark purplish rich red for heavier vintages that have been grown in the international style where the grape is allowed to get very ripe before it is harvested and the grape skins are left in the wine for several weeks to help achieve its rich dark red color. Merlots that are harvested early and not exposed to the grape skins for long periods usually have a light pink color although they are popularly called White Merlot wine. They have a lighter flavor than Red Merlot and a more fruitier taste with fewer tannins so they are perfect for people who are sensitive to high tannin levels in wine.

Grape skin color and sweetness levels of Merlot

This grape has a thin skin and succulent white flesh. The skin of a Merlot grape is usually a very dark blue which some people even go as far as to describe as black.

Merlot wines have a 3-4 medium sweetness level on the wine sweetness chart. This means they have a perfect balance and are not too sweet or dry so they can be enjoyed by everyone.


Merlots grapes make stunning wines and can be used as ingredients in blended wines. They have alcohol levels of 13.5% -14.5% with rich fruity and chocolate notes that make it a favorite for wine drinkers worldwide.