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Wine bottle and glass of wine next to a basket assortment of fruits and cheeses with merlot.

Cheese With Merlot: A Perfect Food Pairing

Cheese With Merlot: A Perfect Food Pairing

In a world filled with concessions and compromises, the coupling of cheese with merlot may stand out as the ultimate in food pairing perfection. Thanks to its versatility and smooth drinkability, merlot is consistently named one of the most popular wines in America. When you pair this liquid goodness with cheese's sublime flavor and texture, the results are spectacular.

Why is merlot and cheese such an incomparable pairing? First, it helps to understand why merlot tastes the way it does.

Why Does Merlot Taste Like Merlot?

To understand the complexities of a wine's flavor profile, you need to break it down into how the grapes are chosen, grown, processed, and aged.

Merlot is made from dark-skinned, blue-black Vitis Vinifera grapes. Their cultivation, processing, and aging result in a smooth-tannin, medium-to-full-bodied wine. Merlot is characterized by soft notes of dark fruits like black cherries, figs, blackberries, and plums and can also have hints of herbs, clove, vanilla, graphite, cedar, and oak.

As for the divine decadence of cheese with merlot, it all comes down to a science.

The Science Behind Cheese And Merlot

Several components play a part in how foods and wines taste together. For a wine, these include:

  • Acidity
  • Tannins
  • Dryness or sweetness

Merlot is a dry wine with little or no sugar, relatively low tannins, and well-balanced acidity. These factors make a huge impact on a wine's flavor and how it tastes with certain foods. Merlot's low tannins, dryness, and balanced acidity make it an amazingly delectable accompaniment to most cheeses, thanks to their own balanced acidity, creaminess, and dense fat content.

Cheese With Merlot: Perfect Pairings

From wine connoisseurs to Wisconsin cheesemakers, the verdict is in — merlot pairs beautifully with such a wide range of cheeses; anything you choose will be a winner. However, if you're getting ready for that all-important dinner party, here's a quick list of favorite cheeses that pair well with merlot:  

  • Cheddar: Cheddar's natural tanginess and salty finish provide a delicious contrast to a merlot's smoothness and gently nudging flavor notes of fruit and cocoa. For a tantalizing kick, choose an extra-sharp cheddar with a bite.
  • Gouda: This is an ideal pairing, partly because gouda's nutty, slightly sweet flavor makes it extremely versatile and partly because merlot and gouda share remarkably similar acidity levels. For a delicious contrast, use smoked gouda if you can find it.
  • Morbier: Famous for its black/gray vein of edible ash, this semisoft, aromatic French artisan cheese is an ideal match for the smooth-yet-intense flavor profile of a merlot.
  • Gruyere: Creamy and nutty, gruyere's fruit overtones harmonize with a merlot's mild, deep notes of fruit and hints of cedar and cocoa.
  • Swiss: A nutty swiss cheese that's full of flavor provides a delicious balance to the subtle fruit flavors of a good merlot.
  • Parmesan, asiago, or romano: The smooth, subtle fruitiness of merlot counters the saltiness of these nutty, brine-finished Italian cheeses.
  • Gorgonzola, blue stilton, or Roquefort: Strong blue-veined cheeses tend to bring out the fruitiness of merlot and smooth out the wine's natural acidity.

Additionally, milder cheeses such as Havarti, brie, and camembert also pair excellently with merlot, so feel free to experiment. When it comes to cheese with merlot, you truly can't go wrong.

Want to learn more about great food and wine pairings? Melier offers a wide range of artisan wines and resources to help you learn more about the best wines for your table and lifestyle. Be sure to subscribe to our newsletter for more tips about buying the right wine for any meal or occasion.
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