Merlot is one of the most popular red wines consumed in the United States, according to the Wine Institute. More than 20 million cases of the wine were drank in 2006. Merlot originated in the wine region of Bordeaux in France, but it is now commonly produced in the United States, especially in California. Merlot is said to be lighter than other red wines, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, and is frequently blended with richer reds to mellow their flavors. A glass of Merlot is a fine accompaniment to any meal, especially one that features beef or game.
Choose a Merlot from a year that appeals to you. There are a variety of options, but generally speaking, Merlot from recent years will be lighter and fruitier than older Merlot.
Keep your bottle of Merlot in a dark, cool place until you are ready to drink it. Merlot should ideally be served at a temperature around 56 to 58 degrees F (see Resources). There are portable wine cellars that will help you bring your wine to the right temperature. However, most people just guess and serve Merlot at room temperature.
Decant your Merlot before serving. This involves pouring the wine from the bottle into another container, which allows the wine to come in contact with more oxygen and enhances the flavors of the Merlot. Simply pour the wine into a decanter and let it sit for approximately 15 minutes. If your wine is especially old, pour the wine slowly into the decanter and leave the last 3 inches of wine in the bottle. This keeps any sediment out of the decanter.
Choose a wine glass made specifically for red wine. These glasses are deep and wide, as opposed to the tall and thin glasses that are made for white wine.
Pour the Merlot into the glass until the wine glass is approximately one-third full. Let the glass sit for 2 or 3 minutes before you drink it. Hold your wine glass by the stem so the heat from your hand does not warm the wine.
Swirl the wine around your glass while inhaling the aroma. Swirling allows more air to interact with the wine, which allows the full flavors of the wine to be released.
Take a small sip of the Merlot and hold it in your mouth for a second to analyze the flavors. See if you can pick out any specific flavors or tastes. Then simply enjoy the rest of your Merlot.
The Mayo Clinic recommends that all alcohol, including Merlot and red wine, be consumed in moderation. A moderate amount of alcohol is defined as less than two alcoholic beverages a day for men, and one for women (see Resources).