While wine enthusiasts and connoisseurs may be able to differentiate easily between wine varieties, it may not be as simple for beginners. An untrained palate and nose can easily mistake different kinds of reds for each other. This happens because of a lack of awareness of flavors and scents to look out for. Two wines that are most commonly mistaken for each other are Shiraz and Merlot. Both are dark red wines. Their deep colors result in a perception that they are both full-bodied. Many have also observed high levels of tannins in both, creating an intense flavour. However, there are several key differences between the two. Let’s have a look at what makes each stand out.
Wines are often named after the grapes used in production or the region in which they are produced. The first difference between merlot and shiraz lies in the grapes themselves.
Merlot grapes are said to have originated in Gironde, western France. But it can now be grown across the world. Many bottles of Merlot are also often blended with other grape varieties, such as Cabernet Franc or Cabernet Franc Sauvignon.
On the other hand, Shiraz grapes are more of an international variety. Though they became popular in the Rhone Valley in France, they are now extremely prominent in Australia. Other countries that grow these grapes include Argentina, Italy, California, Spain, and Portugal, among man others.
Shiraz grapes are ideally grown in colder climates. They contain flavors of cherry, currant, violets, and raspberries with a hint of mint. As a result, the wine is usually full-bodied, with the bold flavors standing out on the palate.
Similarly, Merlot grapes also contain raspberry flavors, in addition to other berries such as blueberries and strawberries. These fruity notes make Merlot a much fruitier, sweet wine. It’s medium-bodied and lighter on the tongue.
When it comes to ABV, Merlot and Shiraz contain about the same amount of alcohol, with Merlot containing a slightly lower volume. Shiraz has an ABV of 13 to 15%, while Merlot comes in at 13 to 14.5%.
Knowing the tasting notes and ABV can help pair these wines with the right dish. The Shiraz’s spices and intense tannins would go well with dark meats like beef or lamb. If you’re putting together a charcuterie board to match, choose smoked cheese.
Which food pairs best with Merlots? Merlot pairs better with lighter proteins. If you have a mushroom or seafood dish, this would be perfect to serve with a glass of Merlot. For a cheese board, find a cheese that matches the Merlot’s lightness, as you don’t want the cheese to overpower the wine!
Merlot and Shiraz available at minuman.com
Look no further than minuman.com to purchase your next bottle of Merlot or Shiraz. Below are ones we recommend:
- Zilzie Victoria Shiraz
- Penfolds St Henri Shiraz
- Penfolds Max’s Shiraz Cabernet
- Grant Burge Benchmark Shiraz