This is for you, Merlot haters!!
Okay, I promise not to be overly antagonistic about this- but this really is for all the Merlot-haters out there. I was reminded of how many of you there are last weekend when I had a delicious 2006 Swanson Merlot open and offered it to a table of regulars, who shall remain nameless! “I hate Merlot,” said regular number one, “I think it’s wimpy and tastes like sticks and dirt.” I gasped with overexaggerated surprise. “Sounds like someone drank her hater-ade this morning!” I said to the rest of the table, who all quickly chimed in that they hated Merlot, too. I told them fine, to each his own, but recommended that at some point in their wine-drinking career that they venture out and try a GOOD Merlot.
We all remember Miles from Sideways exclaiming “I am not drinking any F*#@&*! Merlot!” as one of the funniest parts of that movie. I laughed, too. At the time that I watched it, I had yet to be convinced that Merlot was worth a darn. But I’m older and wiser now, and I have picked a lovely little Merlot to convince you to come back from the dark side and consider the possibility that Merlot is delicious. And perhaps conjure up a little sympathy for Merlot who suffered something of a backlash post-Sideways, in the exact opposite way that Pinot Noir experienced a nice little surge. Poor Merlot.
So! On to talking about the actual wine. Dark fruit definitely dominates the palate- blackberry, black cherry, black plums, chocolate and black pepper. Followed up nicely by a surprising burst of red fruit to balance it out, and finish of coffee and herbs. A tiny bit of Syrah and Cab add some finesse and boost. Strong tannins could indicate that this one might age for a while, but if I were you I’d just drink up. Why wait? Fruit content is so pleasant right now, and for a whopping $15 a bottle, it makes a really nice “house wine!” If I had to pick a food-pairing, I’d focus on that red fruit content- cherries in particular. Some sort of a cherry-balsamic glaze, sauce, whatever you prefer- would really bring out that hint of red fruit in the wine. Pork, steak, duck- anything goes with this one. That’s why Merlot is so great- because of it’s versatility!
So go on- give this one a try- relieve yourself of your Merlot-hatred (or just adversity). The next time you have people over for dinner, serve them this Merlot. You might feel the need to justify it a little, like- “No! This is GOOD, I promise!” while you an hear them making fun of you in their minds, or exchanging meaningful glances over the table- but they will be singing a different tune once they taste it!
Before I bow out for today, here’s a dose of sleeping kitty- aka my wine-blogging assistant: