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This Food-Friendly Varietal Takes You From Savories to Sweets, Snacks to Cakes #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.

The Wine Pairing Weekend - #WinePW - crew is joining in the month-long celebration of Merlot again this year. This is our fifth year of participating. It's such a fun event. And thanks to the generous help of the #MerlotMe producers, many in our #WinePW group received samples around which to design pairings.

Join us this weekend as we blog, tweet and chat about the wonders of Merlot! Our blog posts will go live on Friday and Saturday, October 11-12. We’ll host an hour-long chat on Twitter on Saturday, Oct. 12 at 11am EDT, 8am PST.  Come and join us at the #MerlotMe and #WinePW hashtags on Twitter. We love visitors. We even love hecklers, join us!

Take a look below at all the great ideas for your next bottle of Merlot.

I have to admit as the wine bottles started arriving, I was simultaneously thrilled 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 last year being a record. Ten. Ten bottles of Merlot to open, pair, and enjoy! This year, I received ten again. 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.

I normally lean to the savory side. So, many of my pairings are main dishes with a Merlot. However, I found this food-friendly varietal can match anything from a snack to a cake, too. Here are some of my pairings. Click on the pairing title to go to the original post.


I paired the 2015 Materra Right Bank with Lubyee Bi Lahmi. "From the Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley, this 99% Merlot, 1% Cabernet Sauvignon blend retails for $50. On the nose, the wine is subtly sweet with aromas of red fruit tempered with roasted coffee. On the palate, I got more spice and wood with notes of mint and juniper."

And I served Bunless Lamb Burgers  with the 2014 Northstar Merlot. "With a blend of 76% Merlot and 24% Cabernet Sauvignon, this 2014 Merlot from Columbia Valley was smooth and silky. 'It's a little too smooth,' said Jake. He just meant that he was more inclined to drink it more quickly rather than sip and savor. There definitely was that!"

The Donati Family Vineyard sent two bottles. I matched Wild Game Sausages with Pasta + Donati's 2015 The Immigrant. "On the nose, we got aromas of red fruit with hints of tobacco. On the palate, I found it more complex with layers of spice and a hint of bitterness - like 100% chocolate. This was definitely a wine to be sipped and savored."

The Markham Vineyards Estate Merlot 2015 and the 2016 Duckhorn were ones that I paired with both savories and sweets. The latter was served with a Birch Bark-Brined Chicken and a chocolate cake! Talk about food-friendly, right?


As I mentioned, the Markham Vineyards Estate Merlot 2015 went from savory to sweet with a Poached Salmon Salad with Vanilla Bean Vinaigrette and Some Chocolate. "Heady aromas swirled in this glass - from ripe cherries to bitter chocolate - and it was the color of a rich, sanguine ruby. So pretty!"


Though this could be a dinner all on its own, I'm going to call it a 'snack': An Autumnal Cheese Board, Wild Plum Sauce, & Donati's 2016 Merlot. "On the nose this wine had a sweeter quality of caramel and vanilla. That's why I picked the coffee cheese. On the tongue, however, I got ripe plum with some tinges of oak. That plum was why I picked the pair this with my mother-in-law's sauce. This wine was well balanced and worked well with every bite!"

A few months ago, I went to a tasting room and was offered a snack of potato chips smeared with herbed goat cheese. I replicated that and served it with the 2017 Decoy Merlot. With a suggested retail price of $25, this wine tastes far beyond its price point. It's lush yet complex with layers of fruit and lively acidity.


And, finally, I wanted to pair a Merlot with a chocolate cake. After the successful pairing of the Markham with chocolate and caramel, I decided to pour the 2016 Duckhorn Merlot with a four-layer chocolate cake filled with coffee caramel. Oh, my goodness gracious! This recipe will post for the October Cake Slice Bakers event, but the wine was delightful with it.

With an alluring blend made up of 77% Merlot, 22% Cabernet Sauvignon, 0.5% Malbec, 0.5 % Petit Verdot, this was a beautifully balanced wine that boasted both silky tannins and bright acid. It was just the right match for a rich chocolate cake.

Let me end by saying that five 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 five 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 Food Wine Click! 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.


  1. Wow, 10 bottles. I'm jealous LOL. Great pairings, looking forward to reading the articles as time permits.

  2. Spectacular parings Cam. I especially love the cheese board (which does indeed seem more a meal than a "snack. Our wine tasting club is having a tasting next Friday. If I get a chance I'll make the cake!

    1. That cake was fabulous! Can't wait to hear how it goes.

  3. There is something super versatile about Merlot, totally digging this post. But i's not like it's versatile because it's's still got pizzaz. I love that you found ways to work chocolate into the story, for sure a good thing.

    Nicely done, as always!

  4. Live the chocolate pairings, so often dismissed in wine textbooks when many people like them anyway. Sometimes got to reclaim freedom from the wine authorities! Surely the Merlot producers you highlight here will be happy that our college students can enjoy them with chocolate, even cake.

  5. That cake looks incredible. And I would take your "snack" and make that a very happy meal for me!!!

  6. So many great pairings here! And potato chips and goat cheese sound great to me!


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