Friday, October 12, 2018

So Many Merlots, So Many Pairings for #WinePW #MerlotMe #Sponsored

 This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of the #MerlotMe event sponsors.
Complimentary wine was provided for this post and this page may contain affiliate links.
However, all opinions expressed here are my own.

This is my fourth year participating in #MerlotMe and, once again, Wine Pairing Weekend - #WinePW - collides with the event. Jeff of FoodWineClick! invited us to jump on the #MerlotMe bandwagon with him again this year Click to read his invitation.


The MerlotMe website encourages wine lovers to "celebrate the greatness of Merlot throughout the month of October." So, we are. In addition, all of the #winePW bloggers were offered bottles of Merlot to try, taste, and pair for this event.* Complimentary wine? You bet. I'm in. 


So, I have to admit as the wine bottles started arriving, I was simultaneously excited and more than a little intimidated. My first year in, I received three bottles. And the generous sampling has grown; every year more bottles show up with this year being a record. Ten. Ten bottles of Merlot to open, pair, and enjoy! Needless to say, my pairings spanned several weeks and are included in multiple posts. And they will continue throughout the month of October. It's a good thing we're only at the second weekend of the month.

So, if you're reading this early enough, feel free to join us on Twitter as we chat about all things Merlot. We'll be live on Saturday, October 13th, 8am Pacific time. Follow the hashtag #WinePW and chime in. Or just search for the hashtag and read the posts at your leisure.

Our Wine Pairing Weekend group loves to find creative, new pairings of wines with food. Take a look at all these great ideas when they go live on Friday and Saturday this week. You can tell from the titles that everyone else was also grappling with how to feature all these wines for this event!

And as an extra-added, no additional cost to you, here's a video post from Nick Goldschmidt, winemaker at Goldschmidt Vineyards in Napa Valley! Finally, join us in November with our theme "Together We Rise: Wines from Fire Struck Regions in California, Spain, Portugal" Gwen from Wine Predator will host. See you then

Eschew the Fancy Foods

One of the things that lots of wine choices allows: you don't have to save it for a fancy dinner. With all the bottles from which to choose, I paired everyday foods with pricey wines!


On a Friday night, after a crazy week, I picked up burgers and opened up a bottle of 2016 Sonoma County Merlot from Decoy Wines. A blend of 97% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Sauvignon, this wine is lush and inviting with silky tannins and a balanced acidity. The warm cocoa notes paired nicely with the sauteed mushrooms on my lettuce-wrapped burger. And hints of vanilla were a nice foil for the salty fries, onion rings, and tempura green beans.


For a working dinner, mid-week, I opened up the 2015 Napa Valley Merlot from Cakebread Cellars. We noshed on Tear-Apart Garlic Bread and Garlicky Stuffed Tomatoes while planning the inaugural FIRST Monterey Bay Regional competition coming up in March 2019.

A quick look at their website shows that the 2015 Merlot isn't yet available for purchase - just yet -but the '13 and '14 retail for $54, so I would guess that this bottle is similarly priced. This is a 95% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc blend with 79% estate grapes from their Napa Valley Vineyard. After it was harvested in August and September 2015, it spend 17 months in French oak. The resulting wine has a 14.9% alcohol content and winemaker Julianne Laks comments that "Rich, concentrated flavors of ripe blackberry, black plum and blackcurrant fill the lush palate...."

Not surprisingly, 'lush' would have been my first word pick, too. But, since she chose it, I'll go with supple and lithe. Deep fruit aromas are tempered with a light floral note. And it definitely fills the palate with lingering fruit and mineral highlights. What a delicious wine...and a great match with garlicky goodness.


The 2015 Mt. Brave Merlot escorted us through multiple courses one night. With a retail price of $80 this bottle of wine isn't cheap and we found it a little tight. But, after decanting, it opened up and revealed its subtle power. It doesn't explode with flavor, but sip after sip showed herbs and cedar balanced with dark fruit and a cocoa finish. We uncorked this and lingered over it with multiple courses.

We started with late summer blackberries, pickled green walnuts, multigrain baguette, and Tomme de Savoie cheese. Then we moved on to the main dish, Shepherd's Pie. The wine paired seamlessly with both courses and I even tried a sip or two with the apple-pear pie that D baked for dessert!


After watching The Princess and the Frog for my Food'N'Flix cooking group, I decided to try a Merlot paired with swamp cuisine. 


I uncorked the 2015 Merlot from Trefethen and poured it with my version of a Cajun Courtbouillon. This 2015 Merlot blends 95% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 2% Malbec for a wine that is both earthy and elegant. Its notes of plum with black pepper made it a solid match with the spiced tomato sauce of the dish.


When a friend saw me post this photo of my shipment from Seven Hills Winery, he immediately messaged me with a suggestion that made my mouth water just reading the flavor profile. Think roasted lamb, coffee, and vanilla. Yes, I did. Here's my Coffee-Rubbed Lamb Tagine.


Let me just end by saying that four years ago Merlot wasn't really on my wine-radar. It wasn't that I had anything against the varietal; I just didn't have much exposure to it. After four years of participating in this #MerlotMe, I am always pleasantly surprised at how food-friendly and versatile it is. And you don't even have to be fancy...I really enjoyed pairing it with everyday meals.

Many thanks to the participating wineries who sponsor the event and send samples to bloggers. And a shoutout of gratitude, again, to Jeff of FoodWineClick! for wrangling all of us to explore and shine the spotlight on Merlot. Cheers!

*Disclosure: I received compensation in the form of wine samples for recipe development and generating social media traction. My opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the organizer and sponsors of this event.

6 comments:

  1. Swamp cuisine huh? First time I've heard that one! Your pairings looks magnificent as always Cam. I love the idea of pairing Merlot with simple everyday foods too! Cheers!

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  2. 10 bottles!!! Holy cow, I had a hard time fitting in my 5 bottles in this time period. You're right that it's lucky that #MerlotMe month is only half over.

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  3. What a wonderful collection of pairings! It is so fun to be able to try these wines with so many different dishes and see how truly food friendly Merlot is!

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  4. Terrific pairings!! I can't wait to try some of these recipes (with Merlot, of course).

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  5. fantastic pairings! The garlicy stuffed tomatoes look incredible!

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  6. it's fun how these Merlots are great with simple foods! I see a few bottles here that I haven't tried, like Cakebread and Mt. Brave. They sound good!

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