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How To Tell A Merlot From A Cabernet (And Other Wine Mysteries)...

posted 24 Feb 2013, 14:13 by Mpelembe   [ updated 24 Feb 2013, 14:14 ]

Red wines are simply beautiful. Striking shades of ruby
glimmering through the glass delight those who enjoy it. France
has traditionally been the top producer of red wines in the
world. Two of the absolutely most versatile of reds to have
emerged from there are Merlot and Cabernet. Both these wines
have enough body to be enjoyed with most hearty meals such as
beef, stews, poultry, pork and rich seafood, such as lobster.
Yet there are some big differences between them.

Merlots are well known for their fruitiness. Often when you
hear Merlots described the first words are the type of fruit
taste it has, followed by a variety of other flavors and aromas
found in the wine such as oak, earthy, chocolate, smoky and a
variety of other adjectives. Merlots offer a variety of types
from a light fruity wine that is easy to drink to a much more
complex, tannic wine that can easily be paired with beef.

Cabernet tends to be discussed in more complex terms than
Merlots. In general Cabernet tends to be a little more tannic,
with less sugar than Merlot. Merlot grapes actually ripen
earlier than Cabernet, hence the mildness of Merlot wine
compared with Cabernet. Also, Cabernet is usually aged longer
than Merlot before serving hence the more sophisticated tastes.
While there are numerous similarities between the two types of
wine, from their aromas and flavors to their food pairings,
Cabernet tends to be the more mature of the two, in age, history
and taste.

Another wine mystery, which needs to be unveiled, is that of
the Beaujolais Nouveau. What is it and why is it so popular in
mid-November? Basically, Beaujolais Nouveau is a lightweight,
young wine, which is usually fermented for just a few weeks. It
hails from the Beaujolais region of France and goes on sale each
year on the third Thursday of November. It has a limited
shelf-life and is definitely not the wine you want to put away
in the back of your wine cellar to let it age. In fact it is
best drunk fresh. In the worst years of production, Beaujolais
Nouveau is only good for its first couple of months. In good
years, it may be drunk up to a year later. In the early
twentieth century, Beaujolais was not allowed to be sold before
mid-December, but the rules were relaxed to mid-November in
1951. The immaturity of this wine often leads to unfavorable
ratings, however it should be noted that Beaujolais Nouveau is
very different from other French reds and should not be judged
on the same standards. It has practically no tannins and should
be served chilled. Beaujolais Nouveau has benefited from
marketing in a way that no other wine has.

France offers a wide variety of red wines from the different
regions of the country. Each wine has its own special aspects
just waiting to be discovered. Before dismissing any of them, do
a little research to find a highly recommended one, pair it with
a suggested food and set aside all preconceptions. Who knows –
you might just surprise yourself!

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