Merlot, when made in a medium-bodied style, pairs best with duck, meatloaf, pepperoni pizza, beef fajitas, pulled pork, osso bucco, kielbasa and lasagna. Plush with juicy flavours of plum and cherries, Merlot also features notes of bittersweet chocolate and smoke, creating a very seductive red wine.

Merlot can also be full-bodied, bold and powerful, however, those examples are going to be costly as they are often heavily oaked, or blended to create a powerful Bordeaux or Super-Tuscan. Wine pairing recommendations for this blog are focused more on the accessible and crowd-pleasing versions of Merlot that you will find on store shelves at around the $25 mark.

California, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Chile and Argentina are just a few of the many countries outside of France and Italy that make excellent Merlot based red wines. Merlot is easily available, and frequently found on wine lists either by the bottle or glass.  Merlot is also one of the best wines to serve at Weddings and Banquets.  The silky soft flavours of cherry and plum make it an incredible crowd-pleaser.  Additional flavours of caramel, brown sugar, smoke and cocoa, only further seal the deal.  Meanwhile, the moderate tannin and acidity make Merlot a winner with a wide variety of dishes you’d serve at large events, such as, roast beef, lasagna, pork chops, turkey, and chicken cacciatore.

Finally, given the right circumstances, Merlot can be a fantastic pairing with certain desserts, such as, chocolate cheesecake, or cherries dipped in chocolate.

Best Food with Merlot

Duck and Merlot Pairing

Duck is a rich meat that pairs perfectly with Merlot because the fat in the duck accentuates the fruit flavors in the wine, while at the same time, helps round out Merlot’s acidity.

For Duck served with no frills, such as a Roasted Duck breast served with risotto, select a cooler climate Merlot cooler climate such as France, Italy or Chile. Cooler climate Merlot are higher in tannin and features earthier flavours that complement the gamey duck flavours.

If the duck has a fruit reduction sauce, Merlot’s plush fruit flavours of black cherries, cassis, strawberry and plum and the rich and sweet sauce will pair perfectly. In this instance, I’d go with a warmer climate Merlot from California, that showcases deeper notes of chocolate, cooked cherries and prunes.

Meatloaf and Merlot Pairing

With flourishes of ground beef, vegetables, ketchup and egg mixed together to create a deliciously moist texture, meatloaf is an American classic that is slightly more refined when served with Merlot.

Merlot’s deep blackberry flavour pairs well with the sweetness in the ketchup that is often slathered on your Meatloaf while bitter flavours of dark chocolate, spice, herbs and black pepper making it one of the best wines to pair with Meatloaf.

Pepperoni Pizza and Merlot Pairing

For pairing Pepperoni Pizza and red wine, stick to a French or Italian Merlot which have more herbal (rosemary, anise) flavours that will go nice with the tomato sauce. Merlot from old-world regions tend to feature higher acidity, which helps ensure they won’t clash with the high-acidity of the tomato sauce.

I love how the bitter chocolate and smoky flavours of a velvety Merlot complements the crispy Pepperoni that graces a delicious Pepperoni Pizza. Meanwhile, the black cherry flavours of the Merlot swoop in and serve up plenty of refreshment against the saltiness of the cured meat and cheese..

If your Pepperoni Pizza is heavy on the Tomato Sauce, a Merlot won’t fly, as it’s not acidic enough. For heavily sauced Pizza’s stick to high-acidity red wines such as Chianti, Beaujolais, or Barbera. With that said, Merlot should be able to handle most Pepperoni Pizza’s delivered by a pizza franchise, or frozen in a grocery store.

Pulled Pork and Merlot Pairing

A medium-bodied Merlot for Chicken is delicious with Pulled Pork as the wine’s sweeter fruit flavors will go great with the BBQ sauce. The sweetness of Merlot is only perceived, due to the plum, cherry, cassis and strawberry flavours. Merlot is considered dry, velvety and rich, while having a long bitter chocolate finish.

And a little heat won’t bother a medium-bodied Merlot, but you’ll want to keep a full-bodied Merlot far away from Pulled Pork that is even a touch spicy. (the spice will make the tannin and higher alcohol in a full-bodied Merlot taste like burn)

Rabbit Paired with Merlot

A Fruit forward Merlot will cover up the gaminess of Rabbit, while serving up plenty of refreshment. Rabbit is a lean game meat and has very little fat, thus, a medium-bodied Merlot from California, which isn’t heavy in tannin, will go great with the leaner rabbit flavours.

If your rabbit meat is part of a rich stew or in a hearty sauce, that’s when I’d reach for a pricier Bordeaux, or a full-bodied California Merlot that requires a bit of aging.