Picking up a new bottle of wine can be as difficult as cracking a secret code. What do all of these symbols and words mean? What mystical juice is hiding inside the bottle? At the end of the day, we just want it to be tasty – right?
Let’s decode one of these mystery words: Meritage.
Meritage is an invented word that combines the words merit and heritage. As a result, the pronunciation rhymes with heritage.
These are blended wines that use only Bordeaux grapes, which include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot, St. Macaire, Gros Verdot or Carmenère grapes. Winemakers use their best grapes to produce high-quality wines that are similar in style to the famous Bordeaux wines from France.
Only wines that come from the Bordeaux region can be called by that name so, winemakers outside of that region created the term Meritage to indicate that their wines are similar.
Meritage and Bordeaux blends are famous for good reason. Winemakers take their best grapes and blend them to balance their good and not-so-good qualities to create delicious, balanced wines.
There are also wines made from the same grapes that are labeled Cabernet Merlot, Malbec Merlot, Red Wine Blend or other generic terms.
The word Meritage is a trademark so vineyards have to pay a licensing fee to use the term on their bottles. Many choose not to use the term, but still make lovely blended wines using the same grapes.
If you want to learn more about the history and governance around Meritage you can check out the Meritage Alliance website www.MeritageAlliance.com.
Some great wines to try that are available in the Yukon are: Gray Monk Estate Winery, Meritage for $35.20; Red Rooster, Cabernet Merlot for $20.90 or Augey, Bordeaux for $17.25.
Which bottle you prefer will depend on your personal taste. A quick test to determine your taste is to choose which beverage you prefer: black coffee, coffee with milk and sugar, or tea. Black coffee drinkers are usually tolerant tasters. People who like to add milk and sugar are often sensitive tasters. Finally, tea drinkers are typically very sensitive tasters. The Gray Monk, Meritage is the best flavour choice for a tolerant taster. This wine has the strongest tannin, most oak characteristics and flavours that linger on the palate for the greatest duration.
For the sensitive taster, all of the bottles listed above would be great choices, but the Red Rooster, Cabernet Merlot would likely be the best match. This wine has a lighter tannin, but still a nice mix of fruit and oak flavours.
The Augey, Bordeaux would be the best choice for a very sensitive taster. This wine is noticeably fruitier than the other two, has a more gentle mouthfeel and lower alcohol.
You are ready; you have a wine-match for your taste. Get out there and try something new.