10 Differences Between merlot and cabernet

Merlot vs Cabernet: Understanding the Differences

Are you a wine lover who often faces confusion between Merlot and Cabernet? You are not alone. Both are popular and extensively used wines worldwide, but their differences are often overlooked. In this article, we will help you understand the differences between these two popular wines and their usage. So, let’s dive in.

What is Merlot?

Merlot is a red wine grape variety originating from France. This wine is famous for its soft, fruity, and smooth taste, generally characterized by flavors like cherries, berries, plums, and sometimes chocolate. Merlot generally has a lower tannin level, making it less dry and smoother than other red wines.

Examples of Merlot

The most popular Merlot wines are from Bordeaux, France, but it’s also widely grown in different regions worldwide, including California, Chile, and Italy. Some of the top-rated Merlot wines include:

  • Chateau Pétrus Pomerol
  • Duckhorn Merlot, Napa Valley
  • Beringer Private Reserve Merlot, Napa Valley

Uses of Merlot

Merlot is an incredibly versatile wine that pairs well with different dishes, especially roasted meats, stews, and vegetables. The wine is best served slightly below room temperature

What is Cabernet?

Cabernet is another popular wine grape variety, also originating from France. This wine is famous for its full-bodied taste, often characterized by dark fruit flavors like black currants, blackberries, and oak flavors. Cabernet generally has higher tannin content, making it drier and more robust than other red wines.

Examples of Cabernet

Just like Merlot, Cabernet is widely grown worldwide. Some of the most popular examples of Cabernet wines include:

  • Chateau Lafite Rothschild
  • Caymus Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
  • Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley

Uses of Cabernet

Cabernet is an excellent wine that can pair well with rich and heavy dishes like grilled steak, strong cheeses, beef stews, and roasted lamb. Cabernet is best served at room temperature.

Differences Table

Difference Area Merlot Cabernet
Origin France France
Taste Soft, fruity, and smooth Full-bodied and robust
Color Lighter and less saturated Deeper and more saturated
Tannins Low tannin content High tannin content
Acidity Low acidity High acidity
Ageing Early drinking wine, usually between 3-5 years Age-worthy wine, can be aged for decades
Food Pairing Roasted meats, stews, and vegetables Grilled steak, strong cheeses, beef stews, roasted lamb
Region Widely grown in different regions globally Commonly grown in France, California, and Australia
Price Usually less expensive than Cabernet Usually more expensive than Merlot
Popularity Popular but less frequently recognized than Cabernet More popular and recognized than Merlot


Merlot and Cabernet might share a few factors, but they are different in various aspects, and each wine has its unique flavor and aroma. The table above summarizes the major differences between these two celebrated wines that every wine enthusiast should know.

Knowledge Check

Let’s test your knowledge of the differences between Merlot and Cabernet with the following questions:

  1. Where does Merlot originate from?
  2. Ans. France

  3. What is the key difference between Merlot and Cabernet?
  4. Ans. Merlot has a lower tannin level and is smoother than Cabernet.

  5. What is the best temperature to serve Merlot?
  6. Ans. Slightly below room temperature

  7. What type of dishes would go well with Cabernet?
  8. Ans. Grilled steak, strong cheeses, beef stews, and roasted lamb.

  9. What is the primary difference between the color of Merlot and Cabernet?
  10. Ans. Merlot has a lighter and less saturated color than Cabernet.

  11. Are Merlot wines usually more expensive than Cabernet wines?
  12. Ans. No, usually Merlot is less expensive than Cabernet

  13. Which grape variety is more popular and widely recognized than the other?
  14. Ans. Cabernet is more popular and recognized than Merlot

  15. Which wine is best to age for decades?
  16. Ans. Cabernet

  17. What is the typical taste of Merlot?
  18. Ans. Soft, fruity, and smooth

  19. What is the most commonly grown region for Cabernet?
  20. Ans. France, California, and Australia

Related Topics

  • Top 5 red wines to try this year
  • Understanding the difference between Pinot Noir and Shiraz
  • How to serve wine at the right temperature
  • History and evolution of wine culture

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