Definition - What does Merlot mean?
The term "Merlot" refers primarily to a type of wine grape, originally grown in the Bordeaux region of France. It can also refer to a varietal wine made solely from Merlot grapes. Merlot varietal wines tend to be dry, decidedly tannic red wines, and are among the most commonly consumed types of wine in the world. Merlot is one of the noble grape varieties.
WineFrog explains Merlot
Merlot grapes are widely planted in France's Bordeaux wine region. First recorded in 1784, it began its rise to prominence during the 19th century. This wine grape cultivar thrives in cold climates, although it's also widely planted in California, Australia, and other areas of viticulture with warmer climates.
The Merlot grape was originally most widely associated with Bordeaux wines, but beginning in the 1990s, varietal California Merlot wines became popular in the United States. These wines primarily contain grapes grown in Napa, Monterey, and Sonoma counties. They're noted for their decidedly fruity flavor, with notes of blackberry, cherry, and black raspberry.
Many Merlot varietal wines contain up to 25% Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, which impart a more tannic flavor. Other styles of Merlot are less tannic, with more pronounced fruity notes. It should be noted that as Merlot has experienced its rise in popularity, inexpensive varieties have given many wine lovers a poor impression. Cheap Merlot varietal wines tend to have a rather "flat" character, notably lacking in complexity of flavor.
Like Cabernet Sauvignon varietal wines and Bordeaux wines, Merlot varietals tend to pair well with grilled or charred red meats, which complement the wine's medium-bodied mouthfeel and fruity notes.