Merlot is a variety of dark-blue wine grape that is used both alone and blended to make red wine. Merlot is among the most planted grapes in the <em">Bordeaux region of France, making it one of the primary grapes used in Bordeaux wine, where it adds a softness to the flavor and balances out the tannins of harsher grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon. The popularity of Merlot has been increasing steadily since the 1980s.
There are two main styles of Merlot wines. In the Old World, the traditional, or "Bordeaux style" of Merlot is fairly acidic, but medium-bodied, making it carry fresh hints of raspberry or strawberry and some leafy notes. In the New World, these grapes are harvested later to produce inky-purple wines that are full-bodied and have a velvety tannin level, often with intense notes of plum or blackberry. Merlot tends to mature faster than Cabernet Sauvignon, but it has many of the same pairings, such as grilled meats.