From all red wine styles available today, Merlot and Cabernet are the most popular ones (even a wine dummy knows how to pronounce these). However, very few people, mainly wine experts, know that there is a difference between these two reds, despite their amazing similarity.
Both red wine Merlot and Cabernet originate from the Bordeaux region in France. The story goes like this: vintners living on the left bank of the Gironde river thought that their soil is best for growing Cabernet, and people from the right bank of the river, found their soil more suitable for growing Merlot. So when you look for a bottle of red Bordeaux, just ask for either right or left red wine.
Both reds are made from two of the world’s most widely planted grape varietal and significantly differ in taste, flavour, aroma and bouquet. By determining your preferences, you can easily choose the one that suits you best.
Red wine Merlot is the softer, more supple of the two. Whether you say red wine Merlot or the little blackbird, it is the same thing. Merlot is made of red grapes that thrive more in clay-like soil, and have thinner outer layer, which makes them vulnerable to freezing in springtime. The taste is juicy, with chocolate and cherry flavours, making Merlot red wine the perfect pair to heavy foods, like steak fries. Other flavours include the flavours of Cabernet like bell peppers and black cherry; and the presence of rose, caramel and green pepper corks.
The Cabernet is the more aggressive wine. You can say an older sister to Merlot. These grapes thrive best in soil that’s not over fertilized, nor too wet, and in warm temperatures. They are stronger than the red wine Merlot wines are; have a thicker outer layer, what makes them resistant to freezing. Their main characteristic is that they grow freely, therefore, are wild grapes. This wine features aromas varying from black cherry to herbal form of bell peppers, with highly accentuated tannins. That is why it is best for the Cabernet to be consumed when older, because if too young, the tannins may feel too aggressive. Cabernet, just like the red wine Merlot, is a rich and powerful wine, able to stand alone, or to complement rich dishes that include heavy meats, like barbecued ribs for example.
So, are you more of a Cabernet type of person, strong, powerful and wild; or are you more of a Merlot, softer and supple, but still able to make an impression on your own? Now that you know the the differences between these two red wine sisters, you can easily choose your style.