The Highs and Lows of Merlot and Pinot Noir


What, exactly, are the distinctions between Merlot and Pinot Noir? Both of these red wines are quite popular. So, which wine is ideal for your next dinner party, restaurant order, or simply drinking at home?

Pinot Noir and Merlot are both highly popular red wines, but there are some important distinctions between the two, as well as several crucial features that make them comparable.  Let’s discover about each of them and look at the main differences between Pinot Noir and Merlot.

A Brief Comparison

Whilst Merlot, France’s most grown grape type, yields elegant red wines, Pinot Noir yields extraordinarily smooth red wines, earning it the moniker “Seductress of All Wines.” Merlot is a lighter and more adaptable wine that is higher in copper, zinc, phosphorus, iron, magnesium, and vitamins B6, B3, and B2. Merlot is also a less expensive wine. In comparison to merlot, pinot noir has a fuller and oakier character. It has a high nutritive value than other foods.

Merlot vs Pinot Noir

1. Origin

Pinot Noir is a red wine grape variety that is mostly produced in colder places across the world. It is largely from the French area of Burgundy. It’s cultivated in California, Oregon, Washington, Australia, & New Zealand, among other places.

It demands a long chilly season and is typically planted on limestone soil. Growing this variety is more challenging than others. Because of the difficult growing circumstances, there seems to be a limited supply of these grapes. It is susceptible to illnesses because to its thin skin. This grape’s origins may be traced back to as early as 1st century in ancient France.

Merlot, on the other hand, is simple to cultivate. It is mostly grown in Bordeaux, France, which ranks second in terms of cultivation. It is among the most renowned red wine grapes and thrives on clay and limestone soils. In compared to other grapes, the wine made from these grapes is less costly. It has been grown ever since 17th century, with Cabernet Franc becoming the forefather variety. It became popular in the 1990s.

2. Making

Winemaking is a skill that requires years to perfect. Making and refining wine involves a plethora of factors and milestones that must be met. The final product is determined by the grapes used, the yeast used, the soil in which the grapes were cultivated, and the barrels wherein the wine is matured. It also depends on whether the grapes are skinned or not. The wine is produced after a carefully monitored fermentation procedure.

Merlot wine is among the world’s most popular wines. It is manufactured from dark red grapes cultivated mostly in temperate climatic locations; this vine produces a ruby red wine. It might have a sweet fruity flavour or a deep oaky flavour.

Pinot noir, on the other hand, is dark crimson and created using dark red-blue grapes. These grapes are often black in colour and grow in clusters that are densely packed together. As a result, their French name is “pinot noir.”

2. Tasting notes

Pinot Noir is more flavorful and lighter in colour than Merlot. It has a delicate and velvety mouthfeel and contains less tannin and a greater alcohol concentration than most wines. It is almost never mixed with other wines. Its flavour varies according on the environment, vineyard, season, and winemaker.

Merlot has a gentle as well as lower tannin and acidity. When compared to Pinot Noir, it has a deeper colour and is smoother and softer. It has a greater percentage of alcohol. It is typically mixed with Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc to create a lighter, softer wine with less tannin. It’s doesn’t age in containers and does not lose flavour when stored for an extended period of time.

3. Food pairings

When combining with Pinot Noir, use mild, earthy tastes and creamy sauces. This light red wine is great to sip on its own, and it’s also a fantastic wine to mix with food. It complements fish, chicken, pork, roasted vegetables, and mushrooms.

Merlot, for starters, is a wine that is drinkable by itself and also makes an excellent food paring wine. It goes great with chicken, turkey, pig, and even fish, but it also goes well with lamb, duck, and cattle.

You may go a little heavy on the food preparation with Merlot. Consider beef stew. Consider serving roast duck or grilled pork chops with a crimson or black fruit sauce.

4. Nutritive value

Red wine intake with a high calorie and high carb meal results in decreased insulin elevations in the blood as well as reduced fat and glucose absorption. This does not, however, imply that red wine induces weight reduction. Wines with low carb content, such as merlot and pinot noir, are suitable for keto diets. In general, dry wines may be drunk on keto diets, but sweet or semi-sweet wines cannot. Vegans can drink Merlot and Pinot Noir.

5. Health impacts

Wine is high in antioxidants, including resveratrol, which has cardiovascular-protective qualities. Resveratrol decreases LDL cholesterol and total triglycerides in the blood, which protects from cardiovascular disease, including atherosclerosis. Resveratrol, in addition to decreasing LDL and triglycerides, raises HDL levels in the blood.

Merlot is high in antioxidants, including quercetin and catechin. All of them are polyphenols, which have a powerful effect in reducing free radicals by scavenging. The antioxidative chemicals in pinot noir, on the other hand, are anthocyanins, which have a comparable impact on free radicals. Overall, the polyphenols in merlot and the anthocyanins in pinot noir reduce free radical levels and overall oxidative stress. As a result, stress-induced systemic inflammation is reduced.

As a result, it is never too late to suggest that moderate wine intake has advantages. Resveratrol, an antioxidant found in red wine, has been linked to a lower risk of getting pancreatic cancer.

Comparison Table: Merlot vs Pinot Noir

Categories Merlot Pinot Noir
Appearance It has a darker color. This deep ruby color comes from the blue-colored grapes. It has a light shade of red which comes from the black grapes.
Aroma It often smells like cherries and cocoa and has a background smell of herbs and spices. It can have an intense aroma of black cherries with some spicy scents of mint or cinnamon. Some background touch of tomatoes and mushrooms can also be found.
Sweetness It is low in sugar, meaning it comes under the drier side and not the sweet side. Just because it has a dry side does not mean that it is not sweet at all. It does have notes of ripe fruits like plums and cherries. This wine also falls on the drier side. It is also low in sugar and a light-bodied wine.
Alcohol From cold places like France, it has 13–14% ABV, but can reach upto 14.5% when grown in warmer climates of Chile and Australia. From cold places like France, it has an ABV of 12–13.5%, but it can range from 13.5–15% when grown in warmer climates of California and Australia.
Ageing Potential  7-17 years 15-20 years
Cost Merlot is less expensive; but the blended ones may cost more. The price can vary between $8 – $50.


Pinot Noir tends to cost more because of its limited production and rarity. The price can vary from $10 – $500 or more.
Food Pairings It goes well with poultry, pork, red meat, pastas, salads, beef, and lamb. It goes well with grilled salmon, chicken, lamb, and Japanese dishes like sushi rolls.


Cooking It can be used in cooking if you need a light flavor of wine in your dish.


It can also be used in cooking. If you want a strong flavor of wine in your dish then this the perfect option.

Sum Up

Merlot and pinot noir both are excellent wines. But it really does not matter which one is better. It is all about the taste and preferences of the drinker. Both wines are unique in their own way, so do not get into the trap of which is better. Drink, whichever one your palate loves!!

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