Pairing food with Merlot winesMerlot wines are usually medium- to full-bodied, smooth and round in the mouth. Great bottles have strong dark fruit flavours and a fleshiness on the palate that just cry out to be paired with food. The depth of the wine means that the best pairings are usually more substantial and weighty dishes, and that lighter foods may be overpowered.
- Roast meats of just about any description are fantastic. A classic Sunday roast beef, with gravy and roast potatoes will pair very well with a right bank Bordeaux. Decant a big Saint Emilion from a blockbuster vintage, such as Château Belair 2000. Beware that this one also has some Cabernet Franc in the blend, as many Saint Emilion wines do. The style is distinctive but a little more tannic and austere than you might expect from a 100% Merlot. Counteract this with a nice gravy or other sauce and enjoy.
- A juicy steak, simply prepared. Rare or medium rare, whatever way you like it. Pair that bad boy with a big, bold and fruit-forward Merlot. To really wow your guests, try a Spanish Merlot from a lesser known region: Abadal 5 Merlot 2011, from the Pla De Bages region, has all the boldness and complexity to accentuate the simple goodness of the beef.
- Plum-based sauce dishes will harmonise beautifully with the plum flavours of the wine. Take a crispy Chinese duck breast in plum sauce, alongside an aromatic Merlot like Santa Digna Merlot 2013 from Miguel Torres in Chile’s Central Valley. This one is a great expression of new world Merlot, with plum flavours and a surprising sweetness on the palate that will really pair well with the plum sauce and duck.
- Vegetarians can enjoy Merlot, too. The secret is to avoid raw and lighter veggies, and instead opt for roasted and glazed. Oven roasted peppers and courgettes, or honey-glazed roasted carrots - you’ve got a lot of options here. Barbequed assorted veggies that have been marinated or glazed, even better! You basically want something that has the requisite flavour and moist texture to stand up to the wine. Pick your favourite, or experiment with several as an appetiser, and serve with a mature, oak-aged Merlot like Enate Merlot 2010.