Foods to pair with merlot
Merlot sits firmly in the middle of the spectrum when it comes to a good drop of red; medium-bodied, with medium level of tannins and the same acidity to boot. But that doesn’t mean it’s a middling wine - as those vignerons from Bordeaux (and drinkers around the world) know, it makes sophisticated and generous wines that are perfect for pairing with a wide range of foods.
So, if you're wondering what to serve with that bottle of merlot you've been eyeing, here’s a few suggestions to keep you covered.
Cab sav or malbec may get all the nods from somms when it comes to a winner-winner pairing with steak, but do they have their own cuts named after them? No. And whilst you won’t find a merlot cut on the shelves at your local supermarket (though by all means ask your butcher, it’s a real thing), a juicy, lean fillet or flank steak pairs beautifully with a juicy, velvety merlot.
Mushroom risotto is a winner for merlot - soft tannin and those juicy red and darker fruits are going to provide a nice rich contrast to the earthy, savoury flavours coming through from the mushroom, and amplifying all that’s good in the wine to boot. Yes please.
Bordeaux blends and Chinese cuisine are now classic compadres, but we tend to favour merlot-dominant blends, or even merlot straight up by itself. Merlot’s characteristic plum fruit character means it’s a winner when it comes to dishes like Peking Duck, and it’s got just enough tannin to match against your more generous black-bean sauce centred fare if you’re that way inclined too.
If you’re not a fan of duck though, there’s always the option to pair merlot with its less gamey cousin, roast chook. Merlot’s supple tannins and fresh acidity won’t overwhelm the more delicate protein on offer here, whilst it’s robust and juicy enough to contrast the savoury notes of any garlic, tarragon or thyme you might have in play here.
A French grape? With ITALIAN food? Oui and sì. Merlot is, after all, regularly employed in the blends known as Super Tuscans that we know and rave about. Pasta with tomato sauce may seem like a simple dish, but it's actually a solid pairing with merlot. And we’re all about the simple pleasures. The acidity of the tomato sauce pairs up nicely with the soft, supple tannins of the wine, and those sweeter notes of the sauce will sing in harmony with those in the wine. A sure fire number 1 hit.
So, there you have it - a few pairings with merlot to get you started. And remember, the joy is always in the discovery, so go forth and experiment with the foods you like and the merlot you love.
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