Merlot is famous for being one of the main components in Bordeaux wine blends. Being America’s second-favourite red wine, after cabernet sauvignon, it holds its own in the world of wine.
With less tannins than cabernet sauvignon, it is more food-friendly. On the palate, you can expect to experience notes of cherry, plum, chocolate, bay leaf, and vanilla. Depending on the blend, merlot can be oak forward or more plum forward. Merlot is considered a medium- to full-bodied wine with little dryness but an even presentation of tannins and acidity.
This combination makes it ideal for pairing and “plays well with what’s on your plate” if you will.
When it comes to picking the perfect cheeses to pair with a “crowd-pleasing merlot,” you can go pretty far on the cheese variety scale — from sharp Cheddar to light creamy Brie. With less dryness in this wine, it makes it more compatible with heavy and light taste profiles, compared to their more tannins-forward cousin, cabernet sauvignon. When pairing with other foods, think tomato-based sauces, creamy, and rich. A fire-roasted pizza, bbq chicken, beef short rib, or a rustic ratatouille. This wine would also pair beautifully with a roast turkey… perfect for Thanksgiving dinner!
At this stage, you might be wondering “how do I try them together?” Well here is the standard cheese and wine pairing order of events:
Take a bite of the cheese by itself to assess its taste
Take another bite and hold it in your mouth with the wine
Consider how the two interact with each other to determine if it’s a match
Now with the tasting knowledge, the cheeses we suggest pairing with merlot are Gorgonzola, Brie, Camembert, and Cheddar.
The first cheese we suggest pairing with merlot is a Gorgonzola. Gorgonzola as a cheese is sharp, creamy, with a hint of sweetness to offset the pungent properties which are prominent in Blue cheeses. This cheese is known for taking simple pasta and burger dishes to the next level. Similar to merlot, it is considered a “full-bodied cheese” for its richness and complexity in taste. The creaminess and slight sweetness of the cheese marries well with merlot, but the sharp bite it can have at the end helps the cheese not get lost in the tannins or acidity of the wine.
The next cheese we suggest pairing with merlot is Brie. Brie can be mild and slightly chalky or decadently gooey and quite strong in flavour. Pairing with a merlot might seem strange, however, the subtle tanginess and rich cream flavours from the cheese pair surprisingly well with a full-bodied merlot. These components in the cheese actually help subdue the acidity in the wine, leaving a nutty, buttery taste on the palate.
The third cheese we suggest pairing with merlot is Camembert. Similar to the cabernet dauvignon, Camembert cheese will enhance the wine and make the fruity, dark berry flavours really shine. Camembert is loved for its rich and creamy texture and taste. Pairing this cheese with a merlot will act as an enhancer for the wine, rather than the cheese. The richness of the cheese will coat your mouth in a way, once again minimizing some of the tannins and acidity in the wine.
The last cheese we suggest pairing with merlot is Cheddar. If you’re looking for a hard cheese to pair with a merlot, a sharp Cheddar will do the trick. The bold sharp flavours of Cheddar contrast nicely with the rich and smooth characteristics of a merlot. In this case, the merlot will really showcase the bold flavours of the cheese, bringing out the sharpness but also the more subtle nutty flavours. As merlot is a crowd favourite in the wine world, sharp Cheddar is also a crowd favourite in the cheese world. You can’t go wrong with this match made in wine and cheese heaven!
For the next time you go grocery shopping, you now have a list of cheeses to add to your list! Oh, and you can’t forget the merlot of course. If you really want an enhanced merlot tasting experience, try getting a few bottles from different regions, for example, Bordeaux, Italy, and Chile, to see how they stand up to each other and the cheeses!
Happy pairing and look out for next week’s wine and cheese pairings.
The SommEvents Team