Foolproof Pairing for #MerlotMe Month


Photo Credit: Jill Barth

October is International Merlot Month with November 7th chosen as #InternationalMerlotDay. Here’s how to celebrate the flagship event of the season, #MerlotMe, with pairings that work well, work easily and work ready for anything.


I love the ring of the name: like, gimme a glass of Merlot, willya? It’s a celebration of ease of enjoyment, the versatility, the history and the abundance of high-quality bottles from around the world.

For more reading, here’s my Merlot toolbox:

Washington State Merlot Charms With Quality And Taste

Evenings with Merlot

Merlot: The Busy One

#MerlotMe in the Kitchen

The 2019 event will be the seventh annual celebration of #MerlotMe and the fifth year our Wine Pairing Weekend writers’ group has participated. The #MerlotMe event gathers enthusiasts and producers in the name of enjoying this variety, which is the “third leading red varietal after Cabernet Sauvignon and Red Blends purchased by Americans” according to data from Nielsen.

The event organizers report that in 2018, “#MerlotMe reached almost 20 million wine drinkers and generated more than 72 million impressions in over 40 states and 30 countries, including New Zealand, South Africa, Australia, Chile, Argentina and France.”

The Bottles

Thanks to the wineries that have generously provided samples to our group. This year we are opening bottles from these participating wineries:

Bonterra Organic Vineyards: 2017 Merlot ($16, California)

Casillero Del Diablo: 2018 Merlot ($12, Valle Central Chile)

Duckhorn Vineyards: 2016 Napa Valley Merlot ($56)

Decoy Wines: 2017 Sonoma County Merlot ($25)

Goldschmidt Vineyards: 2017 Chelsea Goldschmidt Salmon’s Leap Dry Creek Valley Merlot ($20)

Grgich Hills Estate: 2016 Estate Grown Napa Valley Merlot ($43)

La Jota Vineyard Co.: 2016 Howell Mountain Merlot ($85)

Mercer Family Vineyards: 2017 Mercer Bros. Horse Haven Hills Columbia Valley Merlot

Mt. Brave: 2016 Mt. Veeder Merlot ($80)

Trefethen Family Vineyards: 2016 The Cowgirl & The Pilot Oak Knoll District Napa Valley Merlot ($90)

I’ve also enjoyed bottles recently from Freemark Abbey (2015 Napa Valley Merlot, $34) and Murrieta’s Well (2016 Livermore Valley Merlot, $46)— though these wineries aren’t necessarily part of the #MerlotMe crew, they are celebrating Merlot Month.

food arrangement in a rectangular white plate close up photography

Photo Credit: Valeria Boltneva

Food Pairing

The title of this piece uses a word that’s a bit funny: foolproof, meaning these suggestions won’t do you wrong. By this I mean that Merlot, as a red wine that is relatively easy to acquire, will go handily with many of the things that people tend to prepare on a regular basis.

There is also quality Merlot available at any pricepoint. While some of the world’s most expensive bottles, primarily from Bordeaux, are Merlot-based, the list above illustrates the scope of price tags on the docket. For $16 you can get Bonterra’s organic Merlot — a reasonable price for a wine made with such care. While this list tends towards the west coast of the U.S., there’s an import from Chile bouncing in at $12: Casillero Del Diablo’s 2018 Merlot.

Merlot can be lively or lush, fruity or earthy. This depends on where and how it is grown. Plantings can be found just about anywhere the wine thrives: France, Italy, Greece, Croatia, Hungary, Montenegro, Slovenia, Israel, China, Japan, Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Uruguay, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada, Mexico and India. In the U.S. California, Washington, New York, Texas, Virginia, Ohio and Oregon are all Merlot-producing states.

Merlot, when done well, has an ideal balance of acidity and tannins. Lean proteins are totally foolproof here as are roasted veggies and even tomato-based sauces and dishes. Merlot can be fetching with mushrooms and hard cheeses as well as caramelized proteins and veg. Hearty pasta, cheesy risotto and braised meats are also lovely with Merlot.

I uncovered some lovely suggestions that I’ve got lined up for my kitchen:

Roasted Veggies with Mushroom Merlot Sauce

Bison Tenderloin With Roasted Vegetables And Shallot Merlot Sauce

Roasted Veg with Merlot Reduction Sauce

Merlot Pot Roast with Horseradish Smashed Potatoes

Peppered Beef Tenderloin with Merlot

Roast Chicken and Mushrooms With Red Wine Sauce

Merlot Marinara Pasta Sauce

Wine Pairing Weekend

“Thanks to the generous help of the #MerlotMe producers, many in our Wine Pairing Weekend group received samples design pairings around. Join us this weekend as we blog, tweet and chat about the wonders of Merlot! Our blog posts will go live on Friday and Saturday, October 11-12. We’ll host an hour long chat on Twitter on Saturday, Oct. 12 at 11am EDT, 8am PST.  Come and join us at the #MerlotMe and #WinePW hashtags on Twitter. We love visitors. We even love hecklers, join us!” ~ our host, Jeff of FoodWineClick.

Take a look below at all the great ideas for your next bottle of Merlot.


Six Word Love Stories for Merlot

The #MerlotMe folks are encouraging everyone to post a short #SixWordLoveStory to Merlot on Social media this month. Let me know in the comments about yours!

17 thoughts on “Foolproof Pairing for #MerlotMe Month

  1. A beautiful selection of Merlots and suggested pairings. I haven’t done a six word love story, but will have to give it a try and see what I come up with.


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