# OF BOTTLES
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.
Merlot wines usually have a medium body and an herbaceous aroma and taste. The luxuriant mouth-feel is due to the lower natural acidity in the grape. The majority of Merlot wines are produced to be consumed young, usually within 1-2 years of the vintage. Higher quality Merlot wines can benefit from aging anywhere between 3-15 years from the vintage date. Merlot is lighter than other red wines and is frequently blended with richer reds to mellow their flavors. Merlot bouquets and flavors most frequently include currant, black cherry, plum, violet, rose, caramel, clove, bay leaf, green peppercorn, bell pepper, and green olive. Merlot wines have different bouquets / flavors depending on how they are processed / aged. Wines processed / aged in light Oak have bouquets / flavors of vanilla, coconut, and sweet wood; while wines produced in heavy Oak have bouquets / flavors of oak, smoke, toast, and tar. Merlot wines that are bottle aged have bouquets / flavors of truffle, mushroom, earth, coffee, leather, cedar and cigar box.