Did you stop buying ****ing Merlot because of the line Paul Giamatti’s character uttered in the movie, Sideways? If so, you’re not alone. Sales of the variety plummeted after the movie’s release thirteen years ago. California Merlot deserved it at the time according to the author, Rex Pickett.

Meanwhile, Washington State has been crafting some fine examples of the variety. So don’t let a line from a fictional movie inform your wine selection. Feel the Merlove! After all, October is Merlot Month. It’s time to grab a glass, uncork a bottle, and share your experience on social media utilizing the hashtag #MerlotMe. If you want to pair that Merlot with food we have some easy tips!

Merlot can be round and silky with flavors of plum, raspberry, figs, and sometimes even baking spices. It is a great wine to pair with food. Noah Fox Reed, currently the winemaker at William Church Winery, once said to pair Merlot with foods you normally pair with Cabernet Sauvignon.

Farrotto is a dish made in the style of risotto, except it replaces the rice with the ancient grain farro. It’s got a richer flavor, and the dish has more weight to it making it perfect for fall and pairing with Merlot. A recipe from Bob’s Red Mill makes a great starting point. In our house we omit the peas and serve the mushrooms on the side.

Our blog’s founder makes one of our favorite Merlot pairings for our group dinners – a cherry and basil salad with balsamic onions. Instead of lettuce she uses basil leaves. There are some lovely cherry infused balsamic vinegars that can be used to make a vinaigrette dressing. Give it a try next cherry season!

Or come up with your own pairing using these guidelines.

Quick tip: match the wine with food using by using the wine in marinades and sauces.

Start with one of these proteins to pair with Merlot:
Beef
Lamb
Venison
Pork
Chicken
Duck

And/or include ingredients that connect the wine with the food (aka “bridge ingredients”):
Berries
Currants
Mushrooms
Tomatoes
Herbs (especially thyme)
Cheddar Cheese
Mustard
Garlic

Now go on, drink that Merlot!

About the Author

Nancy Croisier is an enthusiastic advocate for exploring the world of wine. She holds the prestigious designation of Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW) from the Society of Wine Educators, and has graduated from the Northwest Wine Academy with expert training in wine and food pairing, as well as wine sales and marketing. She specializes in bringing wine brands and consumers together. Follow Nancy’s wine and food adventures on Twitter and Instagram:  @NancyFeasts.