We may earn money or products from the companies mentioned in this post at no additional cost to you.

Which of these Classic Reds Reigns Supreme? Pinot Noir Vs Merlot

Two of the most popular drinks worldwide are coffee and wine. Surprisingly, the popularity of wine is far outpacing that of coffee, with more and more people drinking a glass of wine with dinner to relax after a long day. Pinot Noir and Merlot are two of the most popular red wines in the world. They have long been considered rivals, with their distinct characteristics often pitting them against each other for any given dinner table or special occasion. But what really sets these two noble grapes apart? Oenologists from around the globe weigh in on this great debate: Pinot Noir vs Merlot!

The first thing many experts point to when discussing the differences between Pinot Noir and Merlot is aromatics. While both wines can be fruity and full-bodied, they differ significantly in complexity and depth of flavor. Pinot Noir has a distinctive earthy aroma combined with notes of cherry, raspberry, and mushroom, while Merlot carries more intense fruity flavors like plum, blackberry, and currant.

When it comes to body, tannins, and texture, there’s also a noticeable contrast between the two varietals. While Pinot Noir tends to have higher acidity levels, giving it a light yet silky texture, Merlot is known for its smoothness – thanks to its low tannin content – making it ideal for enjoying without food pairings. Now that you know the basics about Pinot Noir vs Merlot, let’s dive into how these classic wines compare against one another!

Overview Of Varietals

Wine is like a storybook of flavors, each varietal possessing its unique character. Merlot and Pinot Noir are two such characters, though they could not be any more different from one another if they tried. Known for their distinct flavor profiles, the difference between merlot and pinot noir can often make or break an evening’s selection at the dinner table.

A glass of Merlot brings forth hints of plum and raspberry that linger on the palate long after it has been enjoyed. It’s usually full-bodied and smooth enough to drink without food but strong enough to stand up to heartier fare. On the other hand, pinot noir bursts with bright cherry fruit notes, which pair well with lighter dishes while still packing a punch when combined with heavier meals. Which one is fruitier? The answer is unequivocally pinot noir, as it offers a much bolder flavor than Merlot. Ultimately, both varieties have earned their place in wine lovers’ hearts due to their exceptional versatility in pairing options – making them essential players in any aficionado’s repertoire!

Origin And History

Having discussed the distinct characteristics of Pinot Noir and Merlot, it is now time to explore their origin and history. Pinot Noir hails from Burgundy in France; however, its influence has since spread worldwide, with California producing some fantastic examples. Merlot also originated in France but was cultivated more widely than Pinot Noir and can be found in many regions of Europe, especially where Cabernet Sauvignon cannot survive.

Both varietals have been met with considerable success over the years. In fact, Merlot was one of the most popular varietals throughout much of the 20th century – until competition arrived on the scene with New World styles such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz. However, despite this challenge, both wines have solidified themselves as important components of modern winemaking. With different origins and histories that shape their unique flavors today, they remain two highly sought-after varietals among wine enthusiasts worldwide.

Characteristics Of Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir is a red wine made from the Pinot Noir grape. It has a light to medium body can be described as having delicate aromas of cherry, raspberry, currant, strawberry, and even violet or rose petals. The palate is usually soft and smooth with hints of earthiness and spice notes such as clove or nutmeg. Pinot Noirs tend to have moderate tannins that often provide structure but not too much acidity or sweetness. When aged in oak barrels, it develops additional complex flavors like vanilla, toast, and smoke.

The color of Pinot Noir varies depending on the region it’s grown but generally ranges from pale ruby to deep garnet in hue. Its flavor profile also changes slightly according to its origin; for example, French Burgundy tends to have more tartness, while California Pinots may exhibit ripe, juicy fruit characteristics due to warmer climates. Aging potential is another important factor when assessing quality – some great examples can improve over several years if stored properly.

Characteristics Of Pinot Noir

Characteristics Of Merlot

Merlot is a varietal of red wine known for its velvety texture, bright fruit flavors, and moderate acidity. It has an intense, ruby-red color ranging from light to dark, depending on the age. Its aromas often include ripe plums, blackberries, cherries, tobacco, and chocolate notes. The palate reveals a full body with soft tannins and a mild finish.

Its high alcohol level typically falls between 12% and 14%. In contrast, its acidity levels are lower than other red wines like Pinot Noir or Cabernet Sauvignon. This makes Merlot very approachable for casual drinkers and experienced oenophiles alike. The flavors tend to be more subtle than those of bolder varieties such as Syrah or Zinfandel but still enjoyable in their own right. Furthermore, Merlot pairs wonderfully with many different types of food due to its versatility and complexity.

Characteristics Of Merlot

Process For Making Each Wine

Merlot is a full-bodied red wine made from the dark blue Merlot grape. Its soft tannins make it an easier-drinking wine than some of its more intense counterparts. However, although Merlot may have fewer harsh tannins than other red wines, making it requires just as much attention and skill.

Pinot Noir is a light-to-medium-bodied red wine that is produced using the extremely sensitive Pinot Noir grape variety. This delicate varietal requires careful fermentation handling to produce a complex flavor profile with balanced acidity and tannin levels. Pinot Noir grapes are typically picked early in the growing season when their sugar content is at its peak so they can be gently pressed and fermented into wine without too many bitter or astringent qualities.

The winemaking processes used for both Merlot and Pinot Noir involve:

  • Utilizing various techniques such as aging in oak barrels.
  • Blending different lots together.
  • Controlling temperatures during fermentation to create desirable flavors and textures in each bottle.

Ultimately, these practices will determine how well each variety of wine develops and matures over time. A careful selection of quality ingredients, along with passionate winemakers, ensures that each glass poured will be enjoyed by all.

Aging Processes For Each Wine

Irony is a fitting way to understand the aging processes of Pinot Noir and Merlot. While opposites should attract, these two wines could not be more different in terms of how they age. Pinot Noir tends to have an incredibly short lifespan, often at most five years from harvest date, while Merlot can last for decades if stored properly.

Pinot Noir is low in tannins, meaning it does not develop complexity as it ages; however, its fruit flavors are retained even after extended periods. As such, this wine needs to be constantly monitored and drank relatively young to not lose its charm over the years. On the contrary, Merlot has higher levels of tannins and acidity, allowing cellaring potential up to 25 years or potentially longer when conditions are optimal. This creates an interesting tension between robustness and softness within the same bottle, making it unique among other red varieties.

Price Difference Between Pinot Noir And Merlot

As the aging processes for both wines have been explored, it’s now time to discuss their price differences. Generally speaking, Pinot Noir tends to be more expensive than Merlot because of its scarcity and difficulty in cultivating. Its grapes require a very specific climate, as well as hand-harvesting techniques that are labor intensive. Furthermore, many producers use old-world methods such as vineyard sorting due to the grape’s thin skin and tendency to spoil easily.

On the other hand, Merlot is much easier and cheaper to cultivate since it grows in practically any soil type or region where wine grapes can be grown. It also has thicker skins which make it less susceptible to rot and disease during the ripening season. This means winemakers can employ different harvesting methods compared with those used for Pinot Noir. All these factors result in lower production costs, making Merlot usually cheaper than Pinot Noir when purchased from the same producer.

2019 Calera Pinot Noir

2019 Calera Pinot Noir - $210

2019 Duckhorn Vineyards Merlot

2019 Duckhorn Vineyards Merlot - $230

Health Benefits Of Pinot Noir And Merlot

Pinot Noir and Merlot are two of the most popular red grapes used in winemaking, so it’s natural to wonder if they have any health benefits. Both varietals contain beneficial antioxidants that can help protect against heart disease, stroke, and certain types of cancer. Pinot Noir is particularly known for its high levels of resveratrol, a powerful antioxidant found in the skin of dark-skinned grapes. This helps reduce inflammation throughout the body and may even improve blood circulation. Merlot also contains tannins which act as an astringent and aid digestion by removing toxins from the digestive system.

Additionally, both wines contain flavonoids which are known to help reduce cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, and promote overall good health. Furthermore, studies suggest that moderate consumption of either wine has been linked with improved cognitive function due to its ability to increase brain plasticity. All this said it’s important to remember that consuming these wines in moderation is vital; excessive alcohol intake can be toxic and lead to serious health problems.

Serving Temperature Recommendations

Now that we’ve discussed the health benefits of Pinot Noir and Merlot let’s talk about when to serve each one. Serving temperature is important for any wine, as it can enhance or detract from its flavors. However, the ideal serving temperatures are different between a Pinot Noir and a Merlot.

In terms of serving either type of wine, remember that they don’t need to be kept in the fridge or ice bucket – keep them away from direct sunlight until ready to open! Additionally, decanting before drinking is unnecessary unless you’re dealing with older bottles that may have sediment build up over time.


It is clear that Pinot Noir and Merlot are two distinct varietals, each with their own unique characteristics. They share some similarities in terms of price and health benefits, but overall they offer different experiences for the wine drinker. Whether you choose one or the other will depend on your individual preferences when it comes to the flavor profile, texture, and aroma. As they say: ‘The proof is in the pudding.’ I encourage everyone to sample both varieties so that you can discover which one speaks to you most clearly. There’s no right or wrong answer; only what works best for you! Cheers!