What Type Of Wine Is Merlot? (Perfect answer)

Is Merlot a popular wine varietal?

  • Merlot is also one of the most popular red wine varietals in many markets. This flexibility has helped to make it one of the world’s most planted grape varieties. As of 2004, Merlot was estimated to be the third most grown variety at 260,000 hectares (640,000 acres) globally.


Is Merlot A full bodied wine?

Wines that are over 13.5% ABV are considered full-bodied wines. Some wine varieties considered full-bodied include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Malbec. Although most full-bodied wines are red wines, Chardonnay is an example of a white wine that can come in medium-bodied and full-bodied varieties.

Is Merlot a semi sweet wine?

Most popular red wines, like Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Pinot Noir, are dry, which means that they aren’t sweet. They may taste light and fruity, but they are dry because they don’t have any residual sugar left in the finished wine.

Is Merlot a sweet white wine?

White merlot wine is a sweet wine with a crisp finish. Since the grapes spend less time on the skins than they would for a red merlot, the level of tannins is significantly decreased.

Is Merlot dry or semi sweet?

While popular favorites Merlot and Pinot Noir are considered dry red wines, they have higher levels of residual sugars than the very dry options. Tempranillo is considered a very dry red wine.

Why does Merlot have a bad reputation?

The Merlot grape skins are thinner than Cabernet Sauvignon and much more sensitive to climate. Therefore region and weather have a big impact on the style of Merlot that is produced.

What is the difference between Merlot and Shiraz?

Also, Merlot is a delicate, flavorful, medium-bodied wine which is a better wine for beginning tasters. It has a fruity, delicate flavor with a velvety mouthfeel and hints of berries, plum and currant, while Shiraz is a fuller bodied, bold and powerful wine with earthy qualities of pepper, truffle and leather.

Why is Merlot not popular?

Merlot is hated due to its infamy from the movie Sideways released in 2004. Sideways is Paul Giamatti’s breakout film about two friends who take a trip through wine country. Paul Giamatti’s character vocally hates Merlot because he thinks that it tastes bland and that the American market is oversaturated with it.

Is Merlot or pinot noir sweeter?

Merlot might seem the sweetest of the three since it lacks the strong tannins of Cab Sauv and the earthiness of Pinot, but it still has very little residual sugar.

Is Merlot or cabernet sweeter?

Cabernet Sauvignon is very rich and robust, while Merlot is a bit more delicate, and serves up a slightly fruitier flavor. And while both wines are considered “dry”, Merlot tends to be balanced towards a slightly sweeter flavor profile, making it easier to drink.

Is Merlot a white wine or red?

Merlot is one of the world’s most popular red wines, and America’s second favorite after Cabernet Sauvignon. Known for its soft, sensual texture and approachable style, it’s made from red-skinned grapes that can adapt to a variety of climates to produce food-friendly wines in many price points.

What type of wine is the sweetest?

Which red wines are the sweetest? The sweetest wines are the ones with the most residual sugar: port, moscato, most zinfandels and rieslings, and sauternes are the types to look for in the liquor store.

Which red wine is best for beginners?

Top Red Wines for Beginners

  • Cabernet Sauvignon. Cabernet is many people’s entry point to red wine simply because it’s the most widely planted red grape.
  • Merlot. If you love Cabernet Sauvignon, you should try Merlot next.
  • Shiraz.
  • Zinfandel.
  • Pinot Noir.
  • Gamay.
  • Garnacha.
  • Petite Sirah.

What is the driest red wine?

The Driest Red Wine Types That said, cabernet sauvignon is probably at the top of the driest red wines list. It’s naturally high in tannins and tends to be bold and full-bodied. Sangiovese, merlot and pinot noir are also red wine varietals that are generally on the dry side.

What red wines are dry?

Similarity, red wines that are considered dry are Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Pinot Noir, Malbec, and Tempranillo. Cabernet and Merlot are the most popular and well-known produced red wine varieties.

Merlot – What Is Merlot?

Merlot, which translates as “Little Blackbird” in French, is the second most often planted red grape variety in the United States (after Cabernet Sauvignon). While most Merlots are simple to drink, they are known for being mellow, ripe, and elegant. They are a versatile wine that can be enjoyed both with food and on its own. This is an accessible grape variety, and it is frequently advised as the first red wine that someone who is new to red wine should consume. Merlot, which translates as “Little Blackbird” in French, is the second most often planted red grape variety in the United States.

It was from this point on that the vine spread across Bordeaux, where it became well-known for its unique ability to impart softness and rich fruit to a wine when blended with Cabernet Sauvignon, the region’s most popular grape variety.

As the popularity of Bordeaux wine grew over the world, so did the popularity of Merlot.

When they learned that Americans really appreciated the smoothness of the fruit on its own, and that they enjoyed the low tannin levels, they decided to cultivate the grape.

Since its introduction to the United States in California, the Merlot grape has spread to other states, including New York and Washington, where it has become a very important crop in both states.

The wine is frequently described as having a plum flavor with hints of chocolate.

Keep Reading About Merlot

  • A Guide to the Different Merlot Styles from Around the World
  • A Visual Guide to Merlot
  • A Visual Guide to Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Sideways Almost Killed One Of The World’s Great Grapes: How Sideways Almost Killed One Of The World’s Great Grapes
  • The Ten Most Popular American Merlot Wines
  • The Differences Between Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon

The 12 Best Merlot Wines to Drink in 2022

An Illustrated Guide to Merlot Varietals from Around the World a visual guide to the varietal merlot Sideways Almost Killed One Of The World’s Great Grapes: How One Of The World’s Great Grapes, Merlot, Was Nearly Extinguished; A look at the top ten most popular American Merlot wines; a look at the distinctions between Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon; and a look at the top ten most popular California Cabernet Sauvignon wines.

Best Overall: Realm The Tempest 2017

This image is from of Wine.com.

  • Napa Valley, California
  • ABV: 14.6 percent
  • Region: Napa Valley, California
  • Notes on the palate: blueberry, blackberry, black cherry, a hint of violets, and a hint of smoke.

ABV: 14.6 percent; location: Napa Valley, California; Tasting Notes: Blueberry, blackberry, black cherry, violets, and smoke; Blueberry, blackberry, and black cherry;

Best Under $20: J. Lohr Estates Los Osos Merlot 2016

Drizly provided the image.

  • ABV: 13.8 percent
  • Region: Paso Robles, California
  • ABV: 13.8 percent The following flavors are included in this blend: candied violet, blueberry, fleshy plum, crushed blackberries, and French oak spices.

This winery is a mainstay, stalwart, and pioneering producer in Paso Robles, and when a vineyard achieves this level of recognition, it’s easy to look past their iconic label in search of something fresh and interesting. Consider this 2016 vintage from J. Lohr, which benefited immensely from timely winter rains and an Italian-clone of merlot planted in a cooler area of Paso Robles, as seen by my recommendation to purchase it. The outcome is a wine with more juicy acidity than you might think, probably as a result of earlier harvesting due to the fact that phenolic maturity is attained with this clone—but in all, there’s a lightness and freshness to this wine that makes it a superb value for the money.

Best California: Duckhorn Three Palms Vineyard Merlot 2017

Drizly provided the image.

  • Drizly has provided the image.

In addition to being one of the earliest producers of single-vineyard merlot in California, the Duckhorn label can brag of being one of the pioneers in elevating North American merlot to the level of international recognition. Because of the unique terroir of this royally famous Three Palms vineyard, where volcanic rock absorbs the heat of the day, ripening continues overnight, and protects grapes from abnormally chilly mornings where frost may threaten to unhinge them, the secret has been revealed.

This wine is robust and dry, with just a hint of acidity to balance it out.

Related: The World’s Finest Wines

Runner-up Best California: Gundlach Bundschu Merlot 2016

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  • ABV: 14.6 percent
  • AVA: 14.6 percent
  • Region: Sonoma Valley, California
  • Tobacco and plum are among the flavors that come to mind while tasting this wine.

ABV: 14.6 percent; AVA: 14.6 percent; Region: Sonoma Valley, California Tobacco and plum are among the flavors that come to mind while thinking about this wine.

Best French: Château l’Arrosee Saint-Émilion Grand Cru Classé 2010

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  • The region is Saint-Émilion, France
  • The ABV is 13 percent. Tobacco with a vanilla-tinged finish with notes of black currant, blackberry, and Cassis

This vineyard is so French that one of its initial proprietors was Pierre Magne, who served as Finance Minister to Napoleon III during his reign. In these modern times, the proprietors are a little less anonymous, but they keep the same amount of influence. It’s important to note that while a “Grand Cru” classification sounds impressive, unlike Burgundy (where “Grand Cru” indicates that you’re at the top of the heap), the more impressive bottles from this AOC include the word “Classé,” as in “Grand Cru Classé,” and this storied producer rarely produces anything other than a classy, classé, class act-in- a-bottle wine.

Rugged tannins are backed up by a mouthwatering acidity that makes you want to lick your lips.

Runner-up Best French: Les Roches de Yon Figeac Saint-Émilion Grand Cru

Vivino provided the image.

  • Vivino has provided the image.

Thanks to Vivino for their assistance.

Best Washington: Leonetti Merlot 2015

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  • Regional ABV:14.3 percent
  • ABV in the Walla Walla Valley (Washington): Notes on the palate: plum, cherry, cocoa, black licorice, and orange peel.

The wine in question is 100 percent merlot from the Walla Walla Valley, and it is very wonderful. Leonetti ensures that their prized merlot grapes are grown in colder appellations with heavier soils, demonstrating that excellent methods result in pure benefits for the winemaker.

The 2015 vintage is a silken gem, and the magic that occurs in the vineyard is carried over into the cellar and into the bottle, with Leonetti producing some of the most structured and elegant wines in the area.

Best Italian: Le Macchiole Messorio 2016

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  • Tuscany, Italy
  • ABV: 14.5 percent
  • Region: Tuscany, Italy Notes on the palate: charred oranges, black olives, silky dark fruit, and walnuts

Comes to us straight from Tuscany, this Messorio merlot, which is more or less considered to be the flagship bottle of the highly regarded Italian winery Le Macchiole. Every vintage of the Messorio tends to become better and better from year to year. Besides being a classic merlot, it’s also a sought-after critical darling, earning a slew of 99-point ratings here and there like it’s no big deal. Featuring a hefty amount of well defined flavors and velvety, smooth textures, this wine is juicy, flavorful, silky, bright, and all-around excellent.

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Just make sure to wear at least two pairs of socks since this wine will almost likely take the first pair of socks straight off their feet!

Best For Mulled Wine: Robert Mondavi Rum Barrel Aged Merlot Private Selection 2017

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  • ABV: 14.5 percent
  • Region: Monterey County, California
  • ABV: 14.5 percent Notes on the palate: smoky and spicy, vanilla, coconut, and plum

Given that some wineries prefer to keep their winemaking processes under wraps, congratulations to Robert Mondavi for providing the details of their procedure for this wine right in the bottle’s label. Because of the rum barrel aging procedure, this merlot is a wonderful choice for mulled spices, making it ideal for the remainder of the winter season. Make this summer-friendly version of your favorite winter beverage if you’re missing mulled wine in the winter. No one will doubt your intentions when the beverage tastes this fantastic.

Associated: The Best Wines for Mulled Wine (Part 2)

Best Value: Hahn Estate Merlot 2018

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  • Region: Central Coast, California
  • ABV: 14.5 percent
  • Tasting Notes: Plum, vanilla, mint, dark chocolate, savory black olive finish
  • Region: Central Coast, California

When it comes to growing fruit, the Hahn Estate is located on a fertile stretch of California’s central coast at the foot of the Saint Lucia Highlands, where gravelly soils coexist with cool and windy air to provide a perfect environment for fruit production. The merlot grape thrives in these kind of environments. This wine was matured in French oak barrels for a unique flavor and texture that stands out from the crowd. Classic smells and tastes of plum, vanilla, and a hint of mint blend with a touch of dark chocolate to create a unique experience.

Best For Collectors: La Mondotte Saint-Émilion Premier Grand Cru Classé 2016

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  • The region is Saint-Émilion, France
  • The ABV is 14 percent. Notes on the palate: plum, blackberry, Cassis, vanilla, raspberry, oak spices, and a touch of sweetness.

Not every winery can claim that their grapes were produced in a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but La Mondotte is one of few who can. Since the 8th century, wine grapes have been grown in the historically significant Saint-Émilion area, making wines like this one a novelty for collectors. Moreover, it has added the distinction “Prime” to its “Grand Cru Classé,” putting it in the company of just 18 other wineries that are entitled to inform the public that they are the premier classified growths of the Right Bank.

The fact that you have waited 20 years to open a bottle of wine will be a watershed event in your life in a decade or two decades from now, from the night it is opened.

Rich, hefty tannins with magnificent flourishes of savory oak aromas are framed by dazzling acidity, which is energized by vanilla and raspberry notes that emerge from the background. It’s rather impressive!

Best Splurge: Le Dome Saint-Émilion Grand Cru 2009

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  • St. Emilion, France
  • ABV: 15%
  • Region: St. Emilion, France
  • Aromas: Floral and smoky, with strong notes of cedar, plum, and mulberry. Tasting notes:

So, what do you get when you combine Bordeaux-grown grapes with a rock star winemaker and a limited, precisely crafted production? You get this: A merlot is produced that makes it worthwhile to take out a second mortgage, even if it is only to possess a few bottles of the wine. It is operated by winemaker Jonathan Maltus, who initially gained prominence in the wine industry during the “garage moment” of 1990s. However, he has remained a prominent figure throughout the years, keeping up with the times and producing consistently superb wine.

Layers of cassis, graphite, broken stones, dirt, and fine leather combine to create a work of extraordinary texture, structure, and poise.

In this instance, the flavor corresponds to the price you pay.

Why Trust Liquor.com?

For more than a decade, Jonathan Cristaldi has been writing about wine and spirits. He routinely samples wines from all around the world, and he personally tasted every wine in this collection, with the exception of the 2009 Le Dome, but he has tried numerous previous vintages of Le Dome and Yon-Figeac in the past. Tim Cristaldi was honored by Time Out New York as a “Wine Prophet” in recognition of his funny and frequently avant-garde approach to wine education.

The 8 major types of red wines

Cabernet Sauvignon, zinfandel and other red grape types are all classified as red grape varietals. Please discover the following information about each main variety: names, pronunciations, culinary pairings, production area, description, and differences.

Syrah (or Shiraz)

(pronounced Sah-ra or Shi-raz) Syrah and shiraz are two different names for the same grape type, Syrah. Syrah is the sole grape variety used by vintners in Europe. Meat and cheese are good food combinations (steak, beef, wild game, stews, etc.) Districts: Syrah thrives in California, Australia, and France’s Rhone Valley, among other places. Typical tastes and smells of wild black fruit (such as blackcurrant) with undertones of black pepper spice and roasted meat characterize varietal wine. The richness of fruit flavors is frequently accompanied by warm alcohol and tannins that hold the palate.

The shiraz varietal produces a robust, peppery flavor in the reds.

By reading my assessments of French wines, you’ll be able to discover Syrah wines that are both affordable and elegant.


(Mare-lo) It’s a breeze to drink. Because of Merlot’s suppleness, it has become a popular “introduction” wine for novice red-wine lovers. Food combinations may be anything you want them to be. Districts: A fundamental component of the Bordeaux mix, merlot is currently cultivated in a number of countries, including Italy, Romania, California, Washington State, Chile, and Australia. It is the fourth most widely planted wine grape variety in the globe, according to coverage (after sultanine blanche, airen blanc, and grenache noir).

The texture is spherical, however there is often a gap in the centre of the palate. Wines of the Merlot variety are less tannic (rough) than those of the Cabernet Sauvignon variety. A map showing where to get fresh and colorful Merlot wines in any location.

Cabernet sauvignon

(pronounced ca-burr-nay so-veen-yaw) This variety is often regarded as one of the greatest in the world. Cabernet sauvignon is frequently mixed with other grapes like as cabernet franc and merlot. Oak treatment is typically applied to it. Food pairings: Red meat done simply is the best choice. Appellations: Cabernet sauvignon is planted anywhere red wine grapes are grown, with the exception of the northern borders of the world, such as Germany. It is a member of the great red Médoc wines of France, as well as one of the greatest reds produced in Australia, California, and Chile, among other places.

Polyphenols polymerize as they age, and the grip becomes less effective.

The notes of bell pepper are still present.

They help to raise review scores, but they can also overpower the varietal flavor.


Food pairings include: all forms of meat-based meals, foie gras, and smoked salmon. If you insist on drinking wine with your Mexican, Cajun, and Indian foods, an Argentine Malbec is a good choice for you. Districts: Malbec traces its roots back to the French area of Bordeaux. In the Loire Valley, it is known as côt and in Cahors, it is known as auxerrois. It is also known as médoc black or pressac in France, where it has been re-established. Malbec grapes are commonly planted in Argentina, where they are the most widely planted red grape type.

Malbec is a varietal wine with a distinctive flavor that varies widely depending on where the grape is cultivated and how it is processed.

The grape variety malbec is frequently blended with other types such as cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and petit verdot in order to produce Bordeaux-style wines.

Pinot noir

(Pee-know na-wahr) One of the most prestigious red wine grapes in the world. Pinot noir is a tough variety to grow, and it is seldom blended because of its harshness. Combinations with food include grilled salmon, chicken and lamb as well as sushi and Japanese meals (notably sushi rolls). Burgundy (Bourgogne, France) produces exceptional red wines, as well as excellent wines from Austria, Oregon, and New Zealand. Districts: Cabernet Sauvignon has a distinctive flavor that is distinct from other varietal wines.

Because of the low concentration of polyphenols in the tannins, they are very soft.

Pinot noir, on the other hand, is extremely transparent to the environment in which it is cultivated. It is impossible to determine which personality of Pinot Noir is the most representative of the type given the vast number of different varieties that are produced.


(Zin-fan-dell) Possibly the most adaptable wine grape in the world, capable of producing anything from pink wine (White Zinfandel) to deep, hefty reds. Food pairings: tomato-sauce pasta, pizza, and grilled or barbecued meats are all good choices, depending on the freshness and weight of the wine you’re drinking. Districts: Primarily grown in California, zinfandel was introduced to Italy in the 18th century by a French winemaker (where it is called primitivo). Its origins may be traced back to Croatia.


(San-gee-oh-ve-zee) Food pairings: This wine is a fantastic match for Italian and other Mediterranean-style meals, as well as seafood. Districts: Sangiovese is the grape variety that produces the Chiantis of Italy’s Tuscany area, as well as some excellent wines from California in recent years. Typical varietal wine flavor: the predominant style is medium-bodied with fresh cherry and plum notes, with a hint of spice.


(Bar-bear-a) Not as well-known as Merlot, but with a comparable application or combination. Food pairings: Barbera wines are quite adaptable, and they pair well with a wide variety of meals, including tomato sauces. Districts:Another traditional red wine with Italian origins, this time from Tuscany. California has a large population of them. The flavors of varietal wine are as follows: rich black cherry and plum fruit, a smooth texture, and a refreshing acidity. You might want to go back and reread the tasting notes for the Barberas at La Spinetta.

Thank you for bearing withme.

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Merlot Wine: Your Complete Guide to This Versatile Varietal

In terms of easy-drinking red wines, there are few that can compete with Merlot in terms of popularity. Forget about the disparaging remarks Paul Giamatti’s character made about Merlot in the Academy Award-winning film “Sideways,” which was released in 2004. This dry, fruity red wine is here to stay, and wine drinkers all over the world are smitten with it. While Cabernet Sauvignon may be the most popular red wine in the United States, Merlot continues to be a popular option for a variety of occasions, from a night in with friends to a special event like a wedding.

Also included are expert recommendations for how to get the most out of this versatile red, including the optimal serving temperature, delectable food pairings, and the style of glass to use.

What Is Merlot Wine?

Merlot wine is named after the French word for blackbird, and it is a descendant of Cabernet Franc. It is related to Carménère, Malbec, and Cabernet Sauvignon, among other grape varieties. (It’s not surprising that Merlot is frequently confused for Cabernet Sauvignon, despite the fact that there are some significant distinctions, like as Merlot’s softer tannins and fruit flavors.) If you ask around, Merlot grapes can be classified as either black, red, or blue-skinned, depending on who you talk to.

The grape Merlot is native to France’s Bordeaux region (which includes the Right Bank districts and other subregions like as Saint-Estèphe, Saint-Émilion, and Pomerol), but it is now planted all over the world, including the United States.

Merlot is a dry wine with a medium-to-full body, medium acidity, and strong but not overwhelming tannins.

The flavors of grapes will vary significantly based on the wine areas where they are cultivated and the precise winemaking procedure used to make them.

Make no mistake about it: the robust fruit aromas that contribute to Merlot’s easy-drinking reputation do not imply sweetness. What it all boils down to is the winemaking process, which we’ll go over in detail next.

How Is Merlot Made?

In the same way that all wines begin in the vineyard, Merlot begins with the harvesting and pressing of the grapes before the fermentation process begins. In the case of Merlot, the winemaker must also select whether the wine will be produced as a single varietal or as a mix with additional grape varietals. If the wine is going to be blended, the winemaker will decide whether the blending will take place before, during, or after the fermentation process. The wine will be sweeter if the fermentation is stopped before it has finished, as detailed in our fundamental guide to viniculture.

Wine that has been allowed to ferment naturally will be drier and have lower sugar levels than wine that has been forced to ferment (as is the case with Merlot).

Some winemakers may allow the fermentation process to take place in oak barrels, or they will age the wine in oak barrels after the fermentation process has been completed.

Merlot wine grapes are attractive partners for blending in varietal wines, and they are also popular for mixing in dessert wines.

  • Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Carmenère, and Malbec are some of the most popular red wines in the world.

Having said that, Merlot pairs well with a variety of other grape varietals, including: Whether it’s a blended or single-varietal Merlot, the alcohol content of this popular red wine normally runs from 13.5 percent ABV (when produced in cooler locations like France) to 14.5 percent ABV (when produced in warmer climates like California) (from warm climates like California, Australia, and Chile).

Regardless of where it is grown, Merlot has a greater alcohol content than the requirement for a glass of wine in the United States, which is 12 percent ABV.

How to Enjoy Merlot Wine

A few simple tactics may be learned before you pop that cork or twist open that screw cap that will help you drink wine like a pro and enjoy your glass of vino. Learn all you need to know about drinking Merlot, including the ideal serving temperature, the most delicious food combinations, and the type of glassware to use at your next wine tasting party.

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However, while most of us are used to serving red wine at room temperature, it’s better to serve it at a little colder temperature, approximately 60-65 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s possible to wind up with a flabby, soupy, and bitter drink that tastes too alcoholic if you serve wine that’s been sitting out for too long.

90 minutes in the refrigerator is recommended for full-bodied wines such as Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. After that, you may either open the bottle and lay it on the table or decant it, allowing the wine to aerate for 10 minutes before serving it to your guests.

Food Pairings

Generally speaking, Merlot is a light-bodied wine that pairs well with a wide variety of dishes. Serving options for everything from savory to sweet cuisine are covered, as well as wine and cheese matching suggestions. Consider starting with smoked veggies such as roasted bell peppers, as well as salty appetizers such as chips and dip or seasoned Italian olives, as a starting point. Cheeses with strong flavors, such as cheddar, brie, Gouda, Gorgonzola, and blue cheese, make for a delicious aperitif or digestif when paired with Merlot wine.

Merlot pairs well with a variety of cuisines including chicken, roasted mushrooms, and smokey dishes.

The richness of Merlot works well with just about any dark chocolate dish, notably melt-in-your-mouth truffles, because to its tannins and acidity.

Type of Glass

Although it may sound like a sales pitch, the style of glass you use to drink wine makes a significant impact in how the wine tastes overall. According to scientists in Japan, how a glass is shaped affects the way wine vapor rises, which in turn affects the taste and scent you detect when drinking wine. While a basic red wine glass would suffice for Merlot, you may want to consider using a Bordeaux glass for the occasion. The smaller bowl of this glass, which is ideal for full-bodied wines such as Bordeaux wine blends and Cabernet Sauvignon, helps to bring out the richness of the scents in the wine.

Make the Most of Merlot

It is possible that you have had the pleasure of sipping on a glass of Merlot during your wine-drinking career. With its dry yet fruity notes, supple tannins, velvety mouthfeel, and chocolaty finish, it’s no surprise that oenophiles all over the world are unable to get enough of this delicious wine. In fact, the release of the film “Sideways” in the early 2000s resulted in a decline in the production and sales of Merlot. (In fact, the phenomena has been given a name: “The Sideways Effect.”) However, this thick-skinned grape remained in the background for a long time.

Merlot pairs well with a number of cuisines, from grilled meats and vegetables to creamy, rich cheeses and dark chocolate desserts.

Keep an eye on our ever-expanding Unusual Wines blog for additional suggestions on how you may make the most of your wine sipping experience.

Types of Wine: Merlot

Merlot is the second most often planted red grape variety in the United States, after Cabernet Sauvignon. A combination of sweet, juicy fruit and a smooth finish make this wine comfortable to enjoy on its own while yet being robust enough to mix with food. The majority of wine educators and sommeliers recommend Merlot as a first red wine for individuals who ‘don’t drink red wine’ since it is so easy to appreciate that it quickly gains popularity and converts newcomers. The French Paradox, a news exposé by the television show 60 Minutes, was one of the factors that helped to propel Merlot’s popularity.

It has been indicated by Safer that red wine drinking is associated with decreased levels of LDL cholesterol.

Red wine sales in the United States increased dramatically overnight, with individuals contacting wine retailers and pleading for ‘the wine on television that prevents you from dying.’ Wine stores recommended Merlot, and the rest, as they say, is history.

History of Merlot

Despite its widespread reputation and popularity, Merlot is a relatively new grape variety, having been designated by name for the first time in Bordeaux in 1784. It got its name from a local black bird (mérle, in the Occitan language) that liked to eat the early-ripening grapes when they were in season. It immediately gained popularity throughout Bordeaux due to its early ripening, high sugar content, and low acidity profile, which was a nice complement to the classic, but more later-ripening and sterner Cabernet Sauvignon.

  • The University of California at Davis discovered that Merlot is partially descended from Cabernet Franc, but it wasn’t until recently that they discovered the other parent, an almost abandoned type known as Madeleina (which was being utilized as ornamental vines for landscaping at the time).
  • Merlot grows well in moist, cold, deep clay soils, but it also does well in well-drained gravel soils and may even flourish in certain sandy soils.
  • Grape bunches are loose, with enormous, blue-violet berries that are strong in color and sugar, but low in tannins.
  • Merlot has a thin skin, which makes it susceptible to rot when grown in humid circumstances.

Bordeaux, the USA, and the New World

In Bordeaux, Merlot has historically been blended with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot, with the latter two serving to soften the tannic severity of Cabernet Sauvignon’s tannins. Cabernet Sauvignon predominates in the mixes of the Médoc and Graves, where the soils are warm and gravelly, whereas Merlot predominates in the blends of Pomerol and St.-Emilion, where clay and limestone soils are the predominant kinds of soil. When Merlot was introduced to the United States in the mid-19th century, American winemakers used it unblended, and their customers found the delicate, accessible fruitiness of the wine irresistibly delicious.

It is a significant variety in each of those states, but particularly in Washington, where it is credited with establishing the region’s reputation for producing high-quality red wines.

When over-cropped, it may produce pale, thin wines with a vegetal aftertaste that are difficult to drink.

Merlot Characters

The silky tannins of this wine, along with rich fruit flavors such as blackberry, black and red cherry, blueberry, cassis, plum, and currants, as well as notes of spice, earth, tobacco, caramel, and chocolate, make even wines intended for age accessible when young. Merlot responds favorably to oaking, with harsh woody flavors being transformed into smoke, vanilla, and toast. Lighter Merlots, such as those made from salmon or shellfish, or vegetarian dishes—as opposed to heavier Merlots made from beef, lamb, or ragu—will benefit from extended ageing.Merlot is a fantastic food wine, with lighter versions pairing well with salmon, shellfish, or vegetarian dishes—as opposed to heavier versions making a good match with rich protein-based foods such as steak or lamb ragu.

Merlot is more difficult to match with cheese than other red wines because of its soft tannins, which means it is quickly swamped by a fatty or highly flavored cheese.

Master Vintner® Merlot Recipe Kits:

Old Vine Merlot from Master Vintner® Sommelier SelectTM: The grapes from old vines are strong and concentrated. This Merlot progresses from plum, raspberry, and strawberry fruit to a deep blackcurrant, pepper, and spice flavor profile in the finish. Deep oak flavors of smoke and toast are enfolded in the substantial body and rich, interwoven tannins of this wine. The rich, exquisite finish lingers in the mouth long after the final sip has been consumed. Merlot from the Master Vintner® Winemakers Reserve: Bright, fresh fruit is presented in the form of deep, juicy scents.

  • It goes nicely with a variety of cuisines that include red meat, cheese, and game.
  • a very delicious fruity, cherry and blackberry-scented embrace that transforms even a burger into something to be enjoyed with friends.
  • And then sit back and let it perform its deep berry magic!
  • Rich and medium-bodied, it bursts with exquisite raspberry taste and is wonderfully balanced between the sharpness of ripe raspberries and the sweetness of a delectable, off-dry finish, according to the producers.

How to Choose: Cabernet vs Merlot

The actual difference between Cabernet and Merlot is that they’re quite closely connected to one another. However, the following question remains:

Which one should I get?

If you like, you can go for a Cabernet.

  • Savory black cherry and pepper notes
  • Stronger tannin
  • Longer finish
  • Makes a wonderful gift wine
  • Drinks nicely on its own or with food.


If you prefer, you may sip on a Merlot.

  • Fruit-driven plum and cherry notes
  • Less tannin
  • A smoother finish
  • Less expensive
  • An excellent meal matching companion

Which is Sweeter? Cabernet vs. Merlot

Technically, neither, but in terms of flavor, Merlot tends to be more fruity and consequently sweeter than Cabernet Sauvignon. Of course, this is very dependent on the country from whence it originates.Ends on January 31! From now through the end of January, you may save money by purchasing only one book on wine and one digital course. Read on to find out more

A lil’ History on Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon

Both Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon were first produced in the Bordeaux area of France during the 1600s and the 1700s, according to historical records. Since then, the two grapes have risen to become the world’s most widely planted red wine types (by sheer acreage). Unexpectedly, both wine kinds are descended from the Cabernet Franc grape variety, which is a rare occurrence. This implies that they are siblings (or, at the very least, half-siblings, if you want to be picky).

Which is bolder? Cabernet vs. Merlot?

If both wines are produced in the same manner and from the same region, Cabernet Sauvignon will have a bolder flavor due to the high tannin content of the grapes. However, this does not imply that Merlot is a weakling in the wine world! If you are seeking for stronger Merlot wines, begin your search in warmer climatic locations (such as the North Coast of California). Make sure to keep an eye out for Merlot coming from hillside estates! When the grapes are exposed to more sun and wind (as they are on the hills), they yield grapes with ticker-skinned skins and, as a result, tannins that are stronger in flavor.

Unlike other Cabernet Sauvignon clones, Clone 337 develops smaller grapes that make stronger and more complex wines. Photo courtesy of the Franciscan Estate

Styles of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon

The region in which the grapes are cultivated has a significant impact on the flavor of the wine. For example, Merlot from Bordeaux has a savory flavor profile compared to Merlot from California. In general, regions are divided into two styles, which are commonly referred to as “old world” and “new world.”

Cool Climate CabernetMerlot

Wines from cool climates are more structured, with a higher concentration of tannin and earthy tastes such as tobacco and tar present. Some cool-climate Merlot is confused for Cabernet Sauvignon in the marketplace.

France, Italy, Chile*, South Africa*

Cabernet Sauvignon from Bordeaux is a typical example of cool-climate Merlot and Cabernet wine. St. Émilion, Pomerol, and Fronsac are all excellent places to seek for Merlot-based wines. Look for red wines from the Médoc and Pessac-Léognan regions that are based on Cabernet Sauvignon. Both Chile and South Africa are known for having a high concentration of herbal/savory tastes as well as fruit.


Château Faugères is a Merlot-based wine from Bordeaux’s right-bank (St.-Milon) that has a strong fruit presence. A Cabernet-based wine from the left bank (Haut-Médoc) of Bordeaux with a strong tannic presence, Château Sénejaca is a must-try.

Hot Climate CabernetMerlot

Warm climate wines are characterized by a greater concentration of fruit notes and less tannin. Some Cabernet Sauvignon grown in warm climates is mistaken for Merlot. Some winemakers employ oak-aging to give their wines greater structure and body.

California, Australia, Argentina, Washington

California, South Australia, and Mendoza, Argentina are all excellent places to look for good deals in Cabernet and Merlot. You should concentrate your search on the Napa Valley, Paso Robles, Columbia Valley (in Washington State), and Coonawarra regions if you want to find high-quality Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon (in Australia).


Clarendon Hills Merlot is a full-bodied, fruity Merlot from Australia that has a lot of herbal characteristics and has been aged in the bottle. A excellent entry-level Cabernet Sauvignon with delicious black cherry and olive aromas, Duckhorn’s Decoy Cabernet Sauvignon is a second label of the Duckhorn family winery.

The Difference Between Merlot & Cabernet Sauvignon

Red wine varietals Cabernet sauvignon and merlot are two of the most popular and well-established in the world. They’re so popular that they’re the most widely planted wine grape varietals in the world, with cabernet sauvignon accounting for nearly 840,000 acres and merlot accounting for 657,300 acres, respectively. However, if you’re like the majority of the population and don’t have a sommelier diploma, it might be difficult to tell the difference between the two. Despite the fact that Cabernet sauvignon and merlot seem very similar to the naked eye, their sips can include vastly different flavors and aromas that require a trained palate to detect.

To help you better grasp the distinctions between merlot and cabernet sauvignon, you should get familiar with several phrases and descriptions that are typically used during wine tastings.

Then, with this in-depth cabernet sauvignon versus merlot comparison guide, you’ll be able to appreciate the rich history shared by these two wonderful red wines — and dazzle your friends in the process.

Cabernet Sauvignon Description

Cabernet sauvignon is a grape variety that originates in the famed wine region of Bordeaux, France. Its grapes thrive in conditions that are warmer and gentler. Vineyards produce them in practically every wine-producing region on the planet, from the mountain foothills of Chile to California’s golden groves to Australia’s outback vineyards, and they are especially popular in the United States. What differentiates cabernet sauvignon from the almost-as-popular merlot — and other red wines, for that matter — is its tannin structure.

1. Tannins: Medium to High

The tannin content in Cabernet sauvignon grapes ranges from low to high. Because of the strong tannin levels in this grape variety, it provides a bolder, more mouth-drying foundation than other varieties. Tanning agents, like wine tannins, interact with proteins in your saliva to produce the astringent drying feeling you’ll experience after drinking a cabernet sauvignon. As wine matures, the tannins in it soften and become less abrasive, making it a more pleasant drink to drink. Winemakers may additionally infuse their cabernet sauvignon bottles with extra fruity and earthy notes by using a variety of techniques.

2. Color: Burgundy

On-the-vine Grapes from the cabernet sauvignon variety are a distinctive periwinkle color. An uncorked glass of cabernet has a luscious, deep reddish-burgundy colour with a noticeable lighter scarlet rim after it has been selected, fermented, and bottled. The cabernet sauvignon grapes have a high skin-to-pulp ratio, which is the major reason for the dark color you observe in the finished product. Other color nuances associated with cabernet sauvignon include:

  • Centers that are opaque, with younger cab savs containing cores that are even denser and less translucent
  • A glass of cabernet sauvignon that is the lightest where it touches the glass
  • A rim that has faded
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3. Body: Full

Cabernet sauvignon is a full-bodied red wine with a fruity flavor. It is at the top of the list of powerful red varietals, delivering some of the most rich, thick sips that will cover the entire tongue and linger for hours. The body of cabernet sauvignon is described as unctuous, gravelly, rich, and deep by many. The body of the wine will be influenced by the location in which the grapes are grown. Cool-climate cabernet sauvignon will be drier and have more herbal and vegetable aromas than a warm-climate variety, which will have more flavors of ripe fruit and spice on the palate.

  • When measured by volume, it contains between 13.5 and 15 percent alcohol
  • It is ideally served just below room temperature
  • And it has a powerful flavor.

4. Bouquet: Earthy

The fragrance of bell pepper is one of the distinguishing characteristics of cabernet sauvignon. Pouring a fresh bottle of cabernet sauvignon into a decanter will present the nose to flavors such as pepper, cassis, dark chocolate, peppercorns, shavings of pencil, and figs, among other things. Depending on how much time the wine has spent aging in oak barrels, the perfume may remind you of being deep in the forest or sitting around a campfire. Don’t be fooled by its earthy and savory-leaning scent, which is actually rather pleasant.

The aromas of modest fruit notes, such as black currants and juicy dark berries, will be present when you drink a glass of cabernet sauvignon wine. Continue reading for more information on the fruity vs dry flavor qualities of cabs.

5. Acidity: Medium

Unbleached, pure cabernet sauvignon has a medium acidity and is a medium-bodied wine. The wines have a good amount of pucker and tartness to them that strikes your tongue first before giving way to earthier and sweeter flavors later in the glass.

6. Flavor: Dry

In fact, Cabernet sauvignon is one of the driest red wine varietals available on the market — in fact, it is one of the driest wines available in general. A taste of cabernet sauvignon will feel thicker and heavier on the tongue, generating the familiar, mouth-drying feeling caused by the large amount of tannins in the wine. This is mostly due to the strong body of the wine. Due to the fact that winemakers let the yeast to develop for extended periods of time and devour the sugar, Cabernet Sauvignon contains relatively little residual sugar.

7. Strength: Moderate to Intense

The strong, substantial body of Cabernet sauvignon, along with its high tannin content, is the one-two punch that gives it its moderate to extreme power. The balance of a cab sav’s vegetal, spice, and fruit characteristics will differ depending on the soil quality where the grapes were grown, the maceration processes used, the amount of wood used, and the period of time the wine was aged. A French cabernet sauvignon is likely to be earthier and more robust than an Argentinian cabernet sauvignon, which is more fruit-forward.

8. Finish: Long and Savory

Typically, the finish of a cabernet sauvignon is powerful and earthy, merging spicy notes with herbal notes and hints of wild black cherries. Many individuals may characterize the finish of a cabernet sauvignon with tastes like as anise, peppercorn, cassis, luscious black cherries, and freshly cut wood, among other things. Because of the tannins and heavy body of a cab sav, the finish of this wine will leave you with a lingering aftertaste.

9. Fruit Notes: Subtle and Tart

Cabernet sauvignon is a red wine with a taste profile that is savory with a hint of fruit on the nose and palate. The smells and scents of those fruit notes are dominated by wild, foraged, and acidic fruits and vegetables. You’ll be able to taste stuff like:

  • Blackberries, black currants (cassis), black cherries, figs, black plums, boysenberry, blueberry, and other fruits and vegetables

10. Oak Notes: Delicate

The majority of cabernet sauvignons are let to mature in oak barrels, according to winemakers. The oak-aging procedure, on the other hand, is intended to refine the tannins existing in the wine, because oak barrels themselves contain tannins that might impact the flavor of the finished bottle. The aging process softens the tannins naturally contained in the cab sav grape, resulting in a wine that is less overwhelming than it would otherwise be. Oak-aged cabernet sauvignon combines the strong, peppery character of the grape with the vanilla, roasted, or smokey aspects of oak tannins to produce a cabernet sauvignon with improved flavor and structure complexity, as well as increased structural complexity.

Merlot Description

The Bordeaux area of France is home to merlot, as is the case with many other wine grape varieties. Merlot grapes were first cultivated in the late 1700s, making them a relatively new variety in the red wine family.

Merlot wine, on the other hand, combines distinct aspects of sweetness, smoothness, and spice that are unequaled by most other varietals, elevating it to a taste profile that is all its own.

1. Tannins: Low to Medium

A glass of merlot includes just trace quantities of tannins, especially when compared to other red wines such as a Bordeaux or a Cabernet Sauvignon. A big contributor to the smooth, fruit-forward flavor of merlot rather than a mouth-drying full-bodied pour is the low tannin content of the grapes. Tannins are still present in certain proportions in merlot, though. If you’re sensitive to tannins or don’t like for the dry mouthfeel of some red wines, a pinot noir or a grenache are two reds that have lower tannin concentrations.

2. Color: Ruby Red

Merlot wines are distinguished by their trademark ruby red color. Their cores are darker and opaque, allowing just a little amount of light to penetrate through. As merlot matures, its tints and cores become lighter in tone, eventually reaching a garnet hue. The rim of a regular glass of merlot will also have a distinct change in color. Merlot rims have a pronounced orange edge, which is a hue that is not typically found in other varieties of red wine. Some further color differences for merlots may be seen in the following images:

  • As Merlots grow older, their skins become paler. The color of merlot rims darkens with age, going from orange to firehouse brick red

3. Body: Medium to Full-Bodied

Merlot has a light, pleasant, and aromatic body that is easy to drink. Initially hitting the front and center of your tongue, sips will then quickly glide away, leaving behind traces of luscious summer fruits. When everything is said and done, you have a red wine type with lovely suppleness that can be enjoyed on its own or coupled with a variety of dishes. Because of its high alcohol concentration, which is often greater than 13.5 percent, Merlot is classified as a full-bodied wine. Because of the reduced tannin levels in merlot, despite its substantial body, it is still a simple wine to drink.

4. Bouquet: Fruity

When you sniff a glass of merlot, you’ll detect aromas of cherries, raspberries, licorice, plums, and espresso, among other things. One of the most distinguishing aspects of merlot is its fruit-forward flavor profile. When cultivated in cooler locations, such as traditional French merlot, the structure is slightly more developed, with earthier notes like as tobacco, cocoa, and cassis being introduced to the aromas and flavors.

5. Acidity: Medium

Merclot is in the center of the pack when it comes to acidity when it comes to red wines in general. It has refined flashes of sweet and acidic flavors that are tamed by the decreased tannin content and medium-light body of the wine.

6. Flavor: Dry

Merlot has a dry taste character due to the fact that there is almost little residual sugar remaining after the fermentation process. However, for those who are unfamiliar with merlot, the description of dry vs sweet might be misleading. Despite the fact that merlot is a red wine that is fundamentally fruit-forward, it lacks a distinct sugary-sweet aftertaste. Consider the experience of eating a strawberry-flavored piece of candy and eating a real strawberry to explain the contrast between the two options.

The former is overtly sweet, almost syrupy sweet, whereas the latter is much more delicate and subtle. Despite the fact that Merlot is low in sugar, the fruity fragrance helps fool the brain into believing it is a little sweeter than wine actually is.

7. Strength: Moderate to Intense

This is because the strength of a merlot varietal is determined by whether it is grown in a warm climate (such as an Australian or Californian merlot) or a cool climate (such as those grown in France, Italy, or Chile).

  • Wines from cooler climates are more robust, incorporating somewhat more pungent, earthier tastes alongside red fruits. In hot temperatures, merlot retains its luscious, fruity, refreshing zing that fans of this red wine variety have come to expect

8. Finish: Silky

Both warm- and cool-climate merlots have a smooth finish that distinguishes them from one another. A mellow conclusion to each sip is provided by Merlots since they keep their distinctive smooth, even, and velvety balance from the tip of the tongue all the way to the back of the throat.

9. Fruit Notes: Red Fruits

Merlots are among the most fruit-forward of all red wines, making them a highly accessible and versatile beverage option to enjoy with friends and family. The luscious fruity characteristics of Merlot frequently include tastes such as:

  • Dark fruit jam (raspberries, blueberries, black cherries), mint, eucalyptus, plums, wild blueberries

10. Oak Notes: Coffee and Cocoa

Merlots typically undergo medium-age barrel processing, which means they are aged for a minimum of eight to twelve months. More luxurious, in-depth sweet notes are introduced to the varietal at this point, with hints of cocoa beans, espresso powder and even smoke resembling the flavors of the beverage. The tannins in the merlot are further softened by the oak aging process.

Merlot Compared to Cabernet Sauvignon: How to Pick Between and Differentiate the Two

Given their common ancestry and certain similar traits, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot can be difficult to distinguish. To make matters more complicated, both grape varieties are used as the foundation for Bordeaux blends, a famous red wine mixture that seeks to bring out the finest characteristics of both grape varieties. The true difference between merlot and cabernet sauvignon — and how do you know which wine choose for a specific dinner, event, or nightcap — is explained in this article. This merlot/cabernet sauvignon comparison will provide a definitive answer to that question.

1. Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon Similarities

Merclot and cabernet sauvignon are descended from the same parent grape, cabernet franc, which is found in both varieties. Because they are related by a branch on the same family vine, these two varietals have a number of characteristics in common, particularly when it comes to color, strength, and dryness levels:

  • Bordeaux-style wines such as Cabernet and Merlot have rich, dark, ruby-colored bodies. They have opaque cores and lighter rims
  • They are made of plastic. Both are moderately to incredibly potent, with vibrant taste profiles and tempting distinct sensations on the tongue
  • Nevertheless, one is more potent than the other. These wines are well-suited to oak-barrel treatment. The wines in this category are dry red wines – in fact, they’re regarded two of the driest commercial red wine kinds in the world.

2. Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon Differences

Merlot and cabernet sauvignon are like any other siblings in that they have major differences:

  • Merlot is a wine that is essentially fruit-forward
  • Especially when cultivated in colder locations, Cabernet Sauvignon is a savory, earthy wine with a lingering finish. The body of Cabernet Sauvignon is fuller, heavier, and more robust, and it lingers on the tongue for a longer period of time than the medium-bodied, quicker-finishing merlot. Merlot has a lower tannin content and does not provide as much of a drying or prickling feeling in the mouth as Cabernet Sauvignon. Despite being close, the body of a merlot should be a bit lighter ruby red than the deep burgundy of a cabernet sauvignon, especially if the merlot has been matured
  • The rims of merlot wines are orange, but the rims of cabernet sauvignon wines have a gradation of red colors. Cabernet sauvignon will have a more transparent appearance around the rims and edges of glasses than merlot.

When to Pick a Merlot

When you or your pals find yourselves in any of the following circumstances, reach for a bright bottle of merlot.

  • You’ve decided to start drinking red wines again
  • You favor red wines that are fruity, juicy, or lighter in color
  • You enjoy semillons, California pinot noirs, and dry chenin blancs, among other varieties. You’re looking for a bottle of red wine to pair with a variety of dishes or cuisines, such as those served at a potluck. You’re sipping your beverage outside on a hot day. You’re seeking to be more cost-conscious in general, as more merlots are grown in the United States and hence tend to be more economical

When to Pick a Cabernet Sauvignon

If you or your group are interested in a great bottle of cabernet sauvignon, consider the following:

  • I don’t care for sugary wines, whether red or white
  • Have a strong desire for a glass of wine to be enjoyed on its own
  • Have a preference for dry Oregon chardonnays, Australian shiraz, and Spanish tempranillo
  • Take pleasure in high-tannin, heavier wines that have longer finishes. Are you consuming alcohol indoors on a chilly or snowy evening? Toying with the idea of experimenting with higher-aged or oakier wines

Discover and Compare the World of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon Red Wines at Marketview

The world of red wines is vast, interesting, and — at times — overwhelming. Here are some of the highlights. Marketview Liquor has a comprehensive, yet approachable, selection of cabernet sauvignons and merlots available both in-store and online, with the option to have them delivered right to your door step. Improve the ease with which you compare red wines with our online search capabilities, which allow you to filter anything from price and points to subregions and vintage years. Take a look at our online collection, place an order for your next wine case of merlot or cabernet sauvignon, or both, and enjoy these great, complex wines!

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