If you're looking an alternative to White Zinfandel, consider White Merlot wine. This light, fruity wine has a pale pink color and makes a nice change from traditional red or white wines. It is made from the same grape as traditional red Merlot wine.
About the Merlot Grape
The Merlot wine grape is grown all over the world, most notably in France, Australia, Italy, and many places in the United States. This dark-skinned grape has pale flesh and produces white or light-colored juice. It ripens early and typically carries the flavors of honey and cherries. Both traditional Merlot wines and White Merlots use the same type of Merlot grapes.
What Is White Merlot?
Red Merlot gets its dark color from extended exposure to the dark grape skins. If the skins are left on the grapes for an extended period of time, they will impart a more full-bodied flavor and a deep red color to the end product. Red Merlot is usually made by leaving the grape skins in the juice for several weeks.
White Merlot, on the other hand, has a much briefer exposure to the dark grape skins. In fact, when making this time of wine, vintners usually only allow the skins to remain in the juice for a period of a few hours. This shorter period of exposure to the grape skins has several effects on the wine:
- The resulting wine is much paler, since the liquid has absorbed less of the pigment in the dark grape skins. It's usually a light pink in color.
- White Merlot has a lighter, fruitier taste than red wine. Tasters often describe the flavor of raspberries and other summer fruits.
- The end result has fewer tannins, the substances that give red wine its dry taste. Many people get headaches when they drink wine with tannins, so White Merlot can be a good choice for those with tannin sensitivity.
You can expect to spend under ten dollars for a bottle of White Merlot, with most varieties in the six dollar range. There are many options to consider such as:
- Sutter Home White Merlot: This wine is a bright, light red and features hints of sweet cherry and raspberry.
- Beringer White Merlot: This pale red wine bursts with brightness and exhibits flavors of soft plum black cherry.
- Gallo Family Vineyards White Merlot: This blush wine features flavors of the Merlot grape along with ripe plum, blueberry, and hints of cranberry.
Wine History and Background
White Merlot first hit the wine market in the 1990s. This relatively new wine choice came about because the winemakers in France's Languedoc region wanted to compete with the sales of White Zinfandel wine. Zinfandel grapes are not grown in this region of France, but White Zinfandel was extremely popular as a summer wine. In order to capitalize on this popularity, the Languedoc wine growers developed the White Merlot. It was instantly successful, and production of White Merlot spread to many areas of the country and the world.
Serving White Merlot
Now a huge hit with consumers, White Merlot is a great, affordable choice for summer dinner parties and cookouts. Its light flavor complements a wide variety of dishes, and it is available in both sweet and dry varieties. Because it is a white wine made with a red wine grape, it is very versatile, pairing perfectly with everything from pasta and fish to red meat and tomato sauces.
White Merlot wines can be drunk at room temperature, but they are best served chilled. The colder temperature brings out the crisp flavor of the grape and makes White Merlot the perfect refreshing beverage for your next summer get-together.