Pairing Merlot

Eric Guido is back with a delicious pairing menu for Merlot


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France, Right Bank Bordeaux

In Bordeaux, it’s the right bank of the river Gironde where you’ll find Merlot is king. In Pomerol and Saint-Émilion, Merlot makes up the majority of Bordeaux blends. It is truly a different animal from the Cabernet Sauvignon-dominant blends of the rest of the region. These days, Bordeaux has been in a state of flux, as many of the wines are being made in a more international style. However, Chateau Simard has held the traditional line. One of the best things about this estate is that the Chateau holds the wine until they believe it is ready, making the 2001 their current release.

When pairing a Merlot-dominant wine from Bordeaux, keep in mind that they are often softer wines with brighter acidity that can pair well with a myriad of dishes. One such classic example, that seems to go against everything that our wine-pairing knowledge tells us, is salmon. It took me a while to try this myself, but this wine was a perfect complement to a simple Garlic Broiled Salmon with Tomatoes. It was the darker, meaty quality of the salmon with its silky textures that set off the plum and herbal notes of this wine. In the end, it was quite enjoyable. However, a suggestion and a word of caution: use a piece of salmon with the skin intact for the necessary richness and depth needed in this pairing. Also, don’t overcook or use a paprika that is too hot, or the pairing may fall apart.

2001 Chateau SimardThe nose was highly expressive with rich plum, crushed raspberry, leather and potpourri. On the palate, it was medium-bodied with plum, tart red fruits, herbs and earthy minerals, which lingered on the palate along with a bitter twang. (88 points)

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  • Snooth User: zinfandel1
    Hand of Snooth
    154660 1,082

    On the filet mignon dish,does the amount of doneness of the meat factor in to determine which wine to drink? In other words, would a rare filet match up better to a certain wine as opposed to a medium or medium well filet?

    Oct 05, 2012 at 12:29 PM

  • Snooth User: cosmoscaf
    256062 54

    My wife and I are Merlot fans and enjoy a wide range of styles. We also like our red meat pretty rare. Speaking very generally, the big bodied Chateau St. Michelle Merlot does better with rare beef. Once it is cooked medium or more, something a little austere - such as a St Emilion Bordeaux - seems more appropriate if only because the flavors of well done meat are more subdued and a big, full wine can overwhelm it. But that is personal preference.

    Oct 05, 2012 at 1:10 PM

  • Snooth User: Eric Guido
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    92549 198,229

    I tend to agree to Cosmoscaf. I like my meat medium-rare and it's how I plan most pairings. A heightened level of acidity can also help a well-done peice of steak. You need something to get your mouth watering. The Bordeaux recommendation is great.

    Oct 05, 2012 at 1:31 PM

  • Snooth User: Eric Guido
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    92549 198,229

    As well as a Merlot of Northern Italy!!!

    Oct 05, 2012 at 1:31 PM

  • Cool climate merlots are elegant in general, and retain their acidity that make for lovely dining companions. Love them with nearly all food! I would bottle a Carneros merlot if it would SELL, but it's also magical in a blend. I find the cool-climate merlot's coco-y finish is pretty with seared/caramelized edges of meat and the minerality balances with meat juices beautifully. Too fruity wine is no match for a savory meal unless you're into red currant sauce on your duck. etc. I will try these recipes!

    Oct 05, 2012 at 2:46 PM

  • Snooth User: Kirsy
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    880543 1,786

    Thank you so much for all of the recommendations! I am planning on trying at least two of these parings tonight and tomorrow!

    Oct 05, 2012 at 7:40 PM

  • I really like Merlot, I'm used to the ones we make in Argentina, all do I have tried someones from California, in the matter of pairing, I agree mostly with the sugestions there are published in the article, but my favorite is pasta with bolognese, or similar, I have also tried with stew, roastbeef, lamb or pork, with great success.

    Dec 30, 2012 at 7:48 PM

  • Snooth User: messygonzo
    1327679 35

    You need something to get your mouth watering. The Bordeaux recommendation is great.

    Aug 02, 2013 at 6:03 AM

  • Snooth User: Mydietarea
    1328028 33

    I really like Merlot

    Aug 03, 2013 at 1:55 AM

  • Snooth User: jamchimps
    1385295 43


    Oct 28, 2013 at 2:47 AM

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