Merlot is the one of the most popular red wine varietals and is the in the top five most widely-planted black wine grapes worldwide. Merlot is grown throughout the state of California however it is particularly prominent in Napa, Monterey, and Sonoma County. It wasn't until the late 1980's that California Merlot became a big seller. In 2003 the acres of Merlot had grown to over 50,000 a 2,500% increase since 1985. Merlot is fairly thin-skinned and grows best in rocky, cold dry soil that ripen mid season. The age of the vine is a major contributor in the characteristics of the wine. On fertile soil Merlot can produce up to eight tons per acre however the best fruit quality is gained when the crop is kept at six tons per acre. Merlot is a very versatile wine that can be paired with many foods like poultry, red meat, pork, pastas, pizza, toasted cheese dishes, spaghetti with meatballs, hamburgers, braised short ribs, and salads. Merlot wines do not pair well with fish, leafy green vegetables unless they are braised or cooked a certain way, or with spicy foods.
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