This good time for the hearty, bold red wine

Mad for Merlot

Merlot got a bad rap back in 2005 thanks to the movie Sideways, with the character Miles making a bold statement about not drinking it.

If you haven’t seen the movie, make it your next Netflix option with a bottle of something from California. If you have seen it, you probably already know the irony of the ending. I won’t spoil it here.

Merlot, thought to have been named after the French word merle, meaning blackbird, is a perfect red wine for the dark, cold nights of early winter and the hearty dishes that come with the season. Find it in a blend or on its own but do find it if you pushed it aside for a while.

Good pairings? Classic roast beef, a good steak (since we grill outside all year round here in Canada) with a bleu cheese sauce, meaty mushroom dishes like a portobello burger, pork loin, grilled chicken with roast squash on the side.

It is a red wine that can range from a bit light, to medium bodied, to riper and bolder. It’s also one that can have aromas and flavours of red fruits, blackberries, and blueberries and sometimes chocolate. A rich, nicely aged bottle can do quite well with dark chocolate.

So, as International Merlot Day approaches this Saturday, Nov. 7, here are a few bottles to mark the occasion and the unofficial start of Merlot release season.

Hillside Winery, Naramata Bench -- 2019 Merlot $24—The aforementioned chocolate notes appear here, with black currants and hints of fresh ground coffee. Great with grilled lamb topped with a shallot and cherry reduction sauce.

Corcelettes Winery, Similkameen – 2019 Merlot $29—More attention should be paid to wines from this valley, if this bottle is an indicator. Classic elegance, carefully fermented and aged, this is a complex wine with many layers to explore and debate over charcuterie.

Nagging Doubt Winery, Kelowna – 2019 The Pull $32—A Merlot dominant blend, the blackberry, plum, and spice notes pair with tobacco and black cherry. Bold and present tannins that will take on a big dish featuring lamb, or perhaps a moussaka.

Painted Rock Winery, Penticton/Okanagan Falls – 2018 Merlot $40—Red fruits, baking spices, and violets on the nose, leading to a well-balanced palate with notable, but pleasant, tannins. A good red wine to pair with a good gourmet burger.

Intersection Winery, Oliver – 2014 Appassimento $80—exclusive to the winery’s club, this is made in the style of Amarone, as the grapes are air-dried in advance. Deep and rich with flavours of plums and figs leading to bold tannins. Find a friend with a bottle and decant it while catching up.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

A creative thinker with more than two decades of experience in communications, Allison is an early adopter of social and digital media, bringing years of work in traditional media to the new frontier of digital engagement marketing through her company, All She Wrote.

She is the winner of the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association's 2011 and 2012 awards for Social Media Initiative, an International LERN award for marketing, and the 2014 Penticton Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Award for Hospitality/Tourism.

Allison has amassed a following on multiple social networks of more than 30,000, frequently writes and about social media, food and libations as well as travel and events, and through her networks, she led a successful bid to bring the Wine Bloggers Conference to Penticton in June 2013, one of the largest social media wine events in the world, generating 31 million social media impressions, $1 million in earned media, and an estimated ongoing economic impact of $2 million.

In 2014, she held the first Canadian Wine Tourism Summit to spark conversation about the potential for wine tourism in Canada as a year-round economic driver.

Allison contributes epicurean content to several publications, has been a judge for several wine and food competitions, and has earned her advanced certificate from the Wine and Spirit Education Trust.

In her spare time, she has deep, meaningful conversations with her cats.

She can be reached at [email protected]

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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