Deep color, full body, high alcohol, and low tannin are the characteristics of wines made from the Merlot grape. The aromas and flavors can be plummy or sometimes chocolatey, or they can suggest tea leaves.

Some wine drinkers find Merlot easier to like than Cabernet Sauvignon because it’s less tannic. Other winemakers feel that Merlot isn’t satisfactory in its own right, and thus often blend it with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, or both. Merlot makes both inexpensive, simple wines and, when grown in the right conditions, very serious wines.

Merlot is actually the most-planted grape variety in Bordeaux, where it excels in the Right Bank districts of Pomerol and St. Emilion. Merlot is also important in Washington state, California, the Long Island district of New York, Northeastern Italy, and Chile.

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