October is International Merlot Month, dedicated to celebrating an often overlooked and underappreciated varietal.
Ah, Merlot… A varietal that has had a few rough years, thanks to a little film called Sideways. The movie’s protagonist Miles (played by Paul Giamatti), famously declared, “If anyone orders Merlot, I’m leaving. I am NOT drinking any (expletive) Merlot!” According to NPR, “That line apparently echoed beyond the cineplex: In a 2009 case study, Steven Cuellar, an economics professor at Sonoma State University, found a measurable decline in Merlot sales of about 2 percent from January 2005 (the film was released in October 2004) through 2008.”
Down on its luck no more, Merlot is making a triumphant comeback worthy of a celebration.
Don’t know much about Merlot? Here are five facts about this varietal sure to peak your interest (thanks to the ever resourceful, Wine Folly) :
- Merlot translates to “little blackbird” in an old regional French dialect.
- Merlot is the second-most planted grape in the entire world (Cabernet Sauvignon is number one.)
- Cabernet Franc is the father of Merlot, but do you know the mother? It’s Magdeleine Noire des Charentes, an old, esoteric variety discovered through DNA testing.
- Merlot is one of the three red noble grapes (the others are Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir).
- Ideal pairings include turkey, pork, root vegetables, winter salads, stews, and all manner of harvest foods. Avoid pairing Merlot with fish, leafy greens, or spicy foods, where it can either overwhelm or be overwhelmed.
How can you join the celebration? Simply crack open a bottle of Ironstone Vineyards Merlot (only $12 all month long), and post your favorite pictures using #MerlotMe (don’t forget to tag us).
To learn more, visit merlotme.com.