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.