Is Merlot A Dry Wine?

Many wine enthusiasts all around the world share a great love of merlot. It is a very popular red wine. In America, it is the second most popular red wine behind Cabernet Sauvignon.

It has a soft texture and is a very approachable wine, perfect for those unsure about liking wine or those who have little experience in drinking wine. 

The red grapes that make merlot are able to adapt to various climates. The result is wines that pair well with a variety of foods, sold at various price points. Merlot is well regarded for its various tastes, it can be oaky and rich, or plum-like and velvety.

However, despite its various flavors, people still wonder whether or not merlot is a dry wine. In this article, we will be discussing just that and more. So, if this is of interest to you, then read on! 

Where Is Merlot From?

The word “merlot” is actually French, and it is used in reference to a variety of red grapes that are used to make wine. Merlot originally comes from the Bordeaux region in France. 

Where Is Merlot From?

What Does “Dry Wine” Mean?

When a wine is considered dry. It means it has no residual sugar. More specifically, dry wine refers to wine that is not sweet. During the fermentation process, the grape juice becomes wine.

Here, alcohol is created from yeast, which eats the sugar that was in the grape juice. The result is a dry wine.

What Does Merlot Taste Like?

Merlot is in fact a dry wine!

Merlot is commonly referred to as a chameleon because it is able to adapt to various climates. It will often take on the character of the techniques used to make it, as well as its location. 

However, if you want to make a truly great merlot, then its growing process gets a little more complicated than initially thought. If done incorrectly, it leads to overplanting, which in turn leads to an array of wines of poor quality. 

Usually, merlot ranges from being a medium to full-bodied wine. It has a moderate acidity level, anything in between moderate to high alcohol level, and present, but soft tannins. The best quality merlot will have a range of flavors. You can expect anything from:

  • Blackberries 
  • Herbs 
  • Graphite 
  • Plumbs 
  • Black cherries 
  • Cocoa
  • Notes of clove 
  • Notes of cedar (when aged in oak)
  • Notes of vanilla 

What Color Is Merlot?

Because it is made with red grapes, all merlots will have a red color.

When young, various types of wine will have an opaque or semi-opaque, deep red color. More generally, the color will be deeper than Pinot Noir, but lighter than the color of Cabernet Sauvignon

If you want to be able to tell that you’re drinking merlot based on the color, just check out the glass. If merlot is indeed the wine that you are drinking, there will be a glint of orange on the rim, think brick orange in tone. 

As the merlot ages, it will change color. It loses its brightness and pigmentation and will become garnet in color. 

Additionally, it is good to note that while uncommon, merlot can be used to make various types of white wine and rosé. 

How Much Alcohol Is In A Bottle Of Merlot?

The alcohol content within a bottle of merlot depends entirely on where it has been grown. This is because the climate will influence the ripeness of the wine, which in turn will influence the levels of alcohol present within the wine. 

For example, merlot grown in the cooler French regions will have around 13-14% alcohol content, which is measured by volume (abv).

However, in warmer climates, like the climates of Australia, Chile, and California, one bottle of merlot will have an alcohol content of 14.5%. 

Is Merlot Sweet?

No, merlot is not considered to be a sweet wine. Despite there being fruit flavors like plums or cherries, merlot will still not be sweet, because it lacks sugar.

The sugar from the grape juice will be converted into alcohol thanks to the yeast present. This results in a dry wine. 

Sometimes, there may be a little amount of residual sugar (RS) in merlot. This may be because the yeast did not finish its fermentation process, or it may be a deliberate choice to create a further hint of richness. 

However, this does not make merlot a sweet wine, because dry wine can still have a few grams per liter of residual sugar. 

Is Merlot Sweet?

How Should Merlot Be Served?

Merlot has an ideal temperature, much like other red wines. The average home temperature of 70-75°F is still too hot to serve red wines like merlot.

The alcohol will taste hot and the other flavors will become jumbled together in a confusing way. However, if merlot is served too cold, then the flavors will be muted and harder to detect. 

So, the perfect temperature to serve merlot is 60-65°F! You can achieve this by placing your merlot in the refrigerator for around fifteen minutes. 

If your dinner party has finished and there are still opened bottles of merlot remaining, it is best to place the cork back on top and place it in the refrigerator.

You should finish the bottle within two to four days, to ensure that the flavors stay fresh. If you leave it any longer, the wine will begin to oxidize. 

However, don’t worry if you haven’t finished your merlot in this allocated time! If two to four days have passed, you can use the remaining merlot during your cooking process for a vegetable dish or some braised meat! 

Final Thoughts 

Merlot is a dry wine that encompasses a variety of flavors, from rich and oaky to plum-like and velvety. It is not sweet, even with the impression of fruit tastes, because there is little to no residual sugar present in dry wines. 

The alcohol content of merlot will vary depending on where the grapes are grown, but generally, it does not exceed 14.5%. 

We hope this article answered your questions about merlot! 

Rachel Edwards
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