Merlot vs Cabernet Sauvignon : How to Choose one? - Wine by hearts
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Merlot vs Cabernet Sauvignon : How to Choose one?

Merlot vs Cabernet Sauvignon – a comparison that is often made when it comes to red wine. These two grape varieties are among the most widely grown and consumed in the world, but they have distinct differences in terms of taste, aroma, and texture.

Whether you’re a seasoned wine connoisseur or a novice, understanding the differences between these wines can help you make an informed choice a select the perfect wine bottle.

In this blog post, we will delve into the various characteristics of Merlot vs cabernet sauvignon and help you decide which one suits your palate.

You may also be interested in : Merlot vs Malbec.

Merlot Wine.

Merlot vs cabernet sauvignon

Merlot wine is a popular and widely-consumed red wine variety around the world. In the past, Merlot was one of the most popular red wine varieties in the United States and globally, but its popularity has been somewhat stiffly challenged by other red wines like Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir in recent years.


Merlot is believed to have originated in France, specifically in the Bordeaux region, where it has been grown for centuries.

The name “merlot” is derived from the French word for “blackbird,” which may refer to the dark color of the wine or the fact that blackbirds are known to enjoy eating grapes.


Merlot is grown in many countries around the world, including France, Italy, Spain, Chile, Argentina, Australia, and the United States.

In France, the Bordeaux region is the most well-known area for Merlot production, where it is often blended with other varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon. Other regions that produce Merlot in France include the Loire Valley and Languedoc-Roussillon to name a few.

In the United States, Merlot is grown extensively in California, particularly in Napa Valley and Sonoma County

Tasting Notes.

Merlot is known for its smooth and fruity flavor profile, with notes of ripe red fruit, such as cherries and plums, along with subtle hints of vanilla, chocolate, and sometimes even a touch of herbs.

The tannins in Merlot are usually quite soft, giving the wine a silky mouthfeel and making it easy to drink on its own or pair with a variety of foods.

Growing Conditions.

Merlot grapes can be challenging to grow because they are susceptible to diseases such as powdery mildew and botrytis and are more sensitive to frost and heat.

Merlot grapes are generally grown in temperate climates with warm summers and cool autumns. They thrive in well-drained soil with good water retention, as too much water can lead to diluted flavors in the grapes.

You may also be interested in : Pinot Noir vs Merlot.

Cabernet Sauvignon Wine.

Merlot vs cabernet sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the world’s most popular red wine grape varieties, known for its full-bodied flavor, firm tannins, and aging potential.


It is believed that Cabernet Sauvignon was developed as a result of a cross between the Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc grapes in the Bordeaux region of France.

The grape variety quickly became popular in other wine-producing regions around the world, including the United States, Australia, and Chile.

Key Regions.

Cabernet Sauvignon is grown in many countries around the world, but it is most closely associated with the Bordeaux region of France, where it is often blended with other varieties such as Merlot and Cabernet Franc.

In the United States, Cabernet Sauvignon is known as the king of red grapes in California, particularly in Napa Valley and Sonoma County. Other countries that produce Cabernet Sauvignon include Australia, Chile, Argentina, South Africa, and Italy.

Tasting Notes.

Cabernet Sauvignon is known for its full-bodied flavor profile, with rich notes of black currant, dark cherry, baking spices, graphite, and tobacco. The wine also often has a hint of vanilla or oak, depending on the aging process.

The wine typically has medium to high tannins and a long finish, making it a good candidate for aging. When young, Cabernet Sauvignon can be quite tannic and intense, but with age, it becomes smoother and more complex.

Growing Conditions.

Cabernet Sauvignon grapes prefer a warm and sunny climate with well-draining soils. The grape variety is late-ripening, which means that it requires a long growing season to fully develop its flavors and tannins.

Key Difference Between Merlot vs Cabernet Sauvignon.

clear wine glass with red wine Merlot vs cabernet sauvignon

Although both Merlot vs cabernet sauvignon are red wines, there are quite a few major differences between these most consuming wines.

1. Flavor.

Cabernet Sauvignon is known for its full-bodied flavor and high tannins, which give the wine a firm structure and a slightly bitter finish. Merlot, on the other hand, is generally considered to be a softer, more medium-bodied wine with lower tannins and a smoother finish.

2. Aging potential.

Cabernet Sauvignon is known for its aging potential, and can often be cellared for several decades. Merlot, while still capable of aging, typically has a shorter lifespan.

3. Growing conditions.

While both varieties are grown in many countries around the world, Cabernet Sauvignon is often grown in warmer regions with well-draining soil, while Merlot grapes can be challenging.

As they are susceptible to diseases such as powdery mildew and botrytis and climate conditions to grow.

4. Food pairing.

Cabernet Sauvignon is often paired with rich, hearty foods such as red meat, while Merlot is a more versatile wine that can be paired with a wider range of dishes, including poultry, pork, and vegetarian options.

5. Grape Color.

Merlot grapes are dark blue in color while Cab grapes are of deep purple color.

6. Alcohol by volume.

ABV of both wines is almost the same. It ranges between 13.5% -15%.

What To Choose Merlot vs Cabernet Sauvignon?

wine, glass, sunset

For a wine novice, Merlot is generally considered to be a more approachable wine than Cabernet Sauvignon. Merlot is known for its softer, more fruit-forward flavor profile and lower tannins, making it a wine that is easier to drink and enjoy.

Cabernet Sauvignon, on the other hand, is known for its full-bodied flavor, higher tannins, which can make it a more challenging wine for a novice palate.

That being said, every person’s taste preferences are unique, so there is no right or wrong answer when it comes to choosing between Merlot vs Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s always a good idea to taste both wines and explore different varieties to find out what you personally enjoy.

Top 3 Merlot Wine Bottles.

Here are three some of the best Merlot wines you should definitely try.

1. 2010 Trilogie de Le Pin, Pomerol.

Trilogie de Le Pin is the second wine of Chateau Le Pin, a highly acclaimed Pomerol winery in the Bordeaux region of France. The 2010 vintage of Trilogie de Le Pin is widely regarded as one of the best vintages of wine in recent years.

Known for its crispiness, the hint of plum, cedar, orange, cinnamon, and cocoa powder are at the forefront of this remarkable wine.

2. 1999 Miani Merlot Colli Orientali del Friuli.

1999 Miani Merlot Colli Orientali del Friuli is a wine of exceptional quality, with a complex and layered flavor profile that showcases the best of the Merlot grape. It is a wine that can be enjoyed now but also has significant aging potential.

On the palate, the wine is full-bodied and complex, with flavors of dark fruit, tobacco, and coffee, as well as a hint of minerality. The robust and well-structured tannins produce a lengthy and beautiful aftertaste.

3. 2000 Tua Rita Redigaffi Toscana IGT.

This critically acclaimed wine has a full-bodied character and notes of dark fruit, espresso, and chocolate with high tannin and a powerful finish.

Top 3 Cabernet Sauvignon.

Merlot vs cabernet sauvignon

We’ve even compiled a list of best cabernet Sauvignon under $20 as for now, Here are some of the best Cabernet Sauvignon for your next wine tasting.

1. Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 Vintage By Silver Oak Napa Valley.

The 2016 Cabernet vintage of Silver Oak Napa Valley winery has received high praise from wine critics and experts, who have described its flavor profile as rich, complex, and well-structured.

This vintage is however the blend of several grape varieties which include 80% Cabernet Sauvignon and the rest are Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec which give this vintage more smoother and velvety texture.

You’ll find tasting notes of Dark fruit, Blackberry, Cherry, Oak, Chocolate, Leather, Licorice, and Vanilla in this exceptional wine.

2. 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon, Caymus Vineyards.

This 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon by Caymus Vineyards is an outstanding vintage that showcases the excellence of the Napa Valley region.

This luxurious wine is known for its bold and rich flavor profile, with an abundance of dark fruit flavors and a velvety texture.

On the nose, the wine offers aromas of black cherry, blackberry, and cassis with a hint of cedar, vanilla, and spices.

The palate is full-bodied, with flavors of ripe blackberry, black cherry, and dark chocolate, supported by well-structured tannins that provide a smooth and lingering finish.

3. 1997 Cabernet Sauvignon, Screaming Eagle.

The 1997 Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon is a highly regarded vintage from the iconic Napa Valley winery, Screaming Eagle. This wine is widely considered to be one of the greatest Cabernet Sauvignons ever produced from Napa Valley and is highly sought after by collectors and enthusiasts.

This vintage has earned a 100 score from Robert Parker who has described this wine as a “work of art” which clearly showcase the quality of this extraordinary wine. Full of intense dark fruit flavors, this wine’s velvety finish lingers for almost a full minute!

Conclusion : Merlot vs Cabernet Sauvignon.

In the end, the choice between Merlot vs Cabernet Sauvignon ultimately depends on your personal preference. Both wines have their own unique characteristics and are loved by wine enthusiasts all over the world.

So, the next time you are faced with the dilemma of choosing between Merlot vs Cabernet Sauvignon, try both and decide which one suits your palate best.