Merlot wine

Merlot grapes on the vine in an Alpine vineyard in Alto Adige, Italy

Forget the Sideways effect: Merlot is still one of the world's most popular red wines. A versatile crowd-pleaser, its spiritual home is in Bordeaux where it's used in some of France's most prestigious bottles of wine. Today it's grown all over the world, and Italian winemakers are starting to embrace it.

Merlot is often grown in Alto Adige, where it's blended with Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc to create Bordeaux-style wines. It's also popular in Central Italy, where it's blended with native grape varieties like Sangiovese to create Super Tuscan wines.

Although most Italian Merlot is used in blends, some winemakers are starting to produce single-varietal bottles of exceptional quality.

What does it taste like? Merlot has medium levels of alcohol and velvety tannins. Expect fruit-forward flavours of black cherry, plum, raspberry complemented by dried herbs and notes of chocolate. It's often aged in oak, so you can expect spicy flavours like clove and vanilla too.

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