Cabernet Merlot – An Introduction
A classic red wine blend, Cabernet Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot is so popular because these two grape varieties fit together like the pieces of a puzzle. The Cabernet Sauvignon provides a fine structure, i.e. tannins and acidity, while the Merlot fills it with fruit flavours like plums and cherries. Cabernet also gives hallmark cassis/ blackcurrant nuances to this blend. The Merlot has little structure but is full of fruity flavours whereas the Cab Sauv possesses a robust structure. It’s the latter fruit that gives the wine its characteristic lingering finish.
Decoding Cabernet Merlot’s Flavour Profile
Like any varietal or blend, different brands will give you a substantially different experience for this wine. That said, you should expect several of these characters in your drink, regardless of the winery – blackcurrant & cassis, blackberry, plum, red cherry and raspberry. Some also show bell pepper flavour and fragrance. If matured in American oak, your wine will show hints of vanilla. Similarly, ageing in French oak imparts the wine an enchanting tones of spice and cedar. The latter wood also gives a lovely smokiness to the drink. A sip of the wine reveals its mouth-filling character, from the Merlot variety. All in all, this is a wine of elegance, making it perfect for your dinner with boss, or a formal date.
Now that we have discussed the experience this blend provides, let’s learn how to pair it with food.
Cabernet Merlot Food Pairing
1. It is perhaps more important to understand what foods should not be paired with Cab Merlot, than what should be. Since this blend contains a much larger proportion of Cabernet, don’t team it with any food you would not serve a Cabernet Sauvignon wine with. For example, a Korean kimchi – with its hot and sour taste from chilli flakes and vinegar, this salad will make the tannic wine taste sharp and bitter. Mildly spiced Asian dishes, however, can go very well with the blend.
2. The richness of fatty meats like beef and lamb goes beautifully with the tannins. The combination of the two results in the Cabernet Merlot providing a smoother mouthfeel. Slow cooker beef pot roast is not just easy to cook but makes for an ideal partner with the blend! Barbecued beef, cooked till slightly charred, is fantastic too!
3. The famous Italian bolognese sauce tastes heavenly with Cab Merlot for the above mentioned reason. Authentically served with tagliatelle pasta, it is more popularly eaten with spaghetti, outside of Italy. You could also layer it with lasagna and béchamel sauce (White sauce), and bake it, like the Italians!
4. The flavour of rosemary tastes lip-smacking with this blend. Braised lamb shanks with rosemary seems to be a winner from the very sound of it, no?
Though, this doesn’t necessarily mean that any preparation containing rosemary will make a match with Cabernet Merlot.
5. Don’t think you have the energy to whip up these dishes? Get a takeaway! Pepperoni pizza and this wine is a match made in heaven!