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Term Definition
Merlot

Pronounced: Merr-low

Along with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot is the great grape of Bordeaux (France). While Cab Sauv adds structure in the form of harsh tannins, Merlot adds some softness: making them one of the greatest combinations. It is also easier to grow as it ripens earlier (the longer a grape is on the vine, the more chance of something bad happening to it) and it is happier in cooler climates. The warmer the climate that it is grown in, the more alcohol it tends to have. Due to it being less tannic, wines with a high Merlot content can also be drunk earlier (because they don't need time to soften the tannins).

In Bordeaux it is usually mixed with Cabernet Sauvignon to give the wines added structure and tannin (which allows to age). As a general rule, wines made on the left bank (southern Bordeaux) contain a higher percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon (meaning the wines need to age before they are at their best); while the right bank (northern Bordeaux) wines contain a higher percentage of Merlot (making them more drinkable at a younger age). However, this is a very simplistic generalisation. The best examples of wines with high Merlot content are found in Pomerol (Bordeaux, France) - for example Chateau Petrus.

Merlot has also made a name for itself as a varietal (meaning non-blended), especially in the US.

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