Whether or not you’ve seen Sideways, you’ve likely heard by now how “uncool” it has become to like Merlot and order it by name. What’s so crazy about this Sideways Phenomenon is how powerful the effect was of the famous line – I’m not drinking any f*cking merlot.
Whatever happened to – I’m not taking any f*cking wine advice from a fictional character?
But, did people ever like it?
Merlot was the hotness in the 90s.
Its ubiquity and general affability during America’s transition into embracing wine forced it into popularity in a way that was doomed to fail. Nothing can be that popular, that consistently copied and continue to keep its cool - except Beyonce. In the last decade or so Merlot has suffered a blowback by being almost too likable.
However, what most people don’t realize is that they’ve been drinking Merlot all along
It’s true! And not just the red blends that have caught on like wildfire - such as the sassily named Ménage à Trois wine - it’s the choice of snobs as well. That’s due to the classic blending style called Meritage which all started in a little region called Bordeaux. Some of the most expensive wines in the world come from there and many of its most prized wines on the right bank of the river are made up mostly of - you guessed it - f*cking Merlot.
Bordeaux. I thought that was mostly Cabernet?
It’s both! Bordeaux is a region split in two by The Garonne River. This river provides a border between two very distinct soil types. As you may have heard, soil (or terroir) istrès important when it comes to wine.
The right bank of the Garonne is made up of a more clay-like soil, which traps water and gives the vines what’s called “wet feet.” This is a trait that bodes very well for Merlot, not so much for Cabernet, making most wines from this side predominantly Merlot. Regions like St. Emilion and Pomerol on the right bank of Bordeaux produce some of the best wines on the face of the planet and are made up of mostly merlot.
Fine. So is it so uncool it’s cool again?
We think so and even if it isn’t – who cares? Drink what tastes good to you. Merlot probably does if you like red berries, velvety palates and lower tannins. We recommend giving these three a shot:
Merlot Party Facts
To Sound Super Smart at Your Next Party
Remember that prized final wine Miles enjoys in Sideways at the fast food joint? It was a 1961 Château Cheval Blanc, a wine produced on the right bank of Bordeaux’s river, making it predominantly, you guessed it - Merlot. LOLZ.
Pétrus is another famous merlot based wine from the right bank. These babies can cost up to 5G's per bottle!
Carmenère is a lovely French varietal that was assumed extinct after the Phylloxera epidemic in France. (More on that later.) However, after many years of replanting in South America, experts were noticing a distinct flavor profile of the Chilean Merlot. They realized this flavor profile wasn’t Merlot at all but rather Carmenere back from the DEAD. Now it’s one of the most popular and commonly grown grapes in Chile.