What Is The Difference Between Merlot And Cabernet Wine

Are you a wine lover? If so, then you know that there are many different types of wines. Two of the most popular and frequently enjoyed wines are Merlot and Cabernet. But what’s the difference between these two? You’ll learn all about it in this article! Let’s take a look at how Merlot and Cabernet differ when it comes to flavor, alcohol content, aging potential, and price point. So pour yourself a glass of your favorite wine and let’s get started!

Overview of Merlot and Cabernet Wines

Get ready to explore the unique flavors of two classic varietals – Merlot and Cabernet! Merlot grapes are soft and juicy, with a deep red color that’s easy to recognize. This grape is grown in many countries around the world, including Europe, Australia, South America, and North America. Cabernet Sauvignon grapes are also dark-skinned but slightly less juicy than Merlot. They have a more intense flavor profile that often features notes of blackberries and cassis. When blended with other varieties like Cabernet Franc or Malbec, they can create some truly complex wines that offer layers of complexity in every sip. With such different characteristics between these two varietals, it’s no wonder they have such distinct reputations in the wine world. Moving on to the differences in flavor…

Difference in Flavor

Let’s start by discussing Merlot wines. Generally, they have a softer body and flavor profile than Cabernet Sauvignon, featuring ripe fruit flavors such as blackberry and plum with hints of cocoa or coffee. Merlot pairs well with earthy dishes such as mushrooms, truffles, and roasted vegetables. Now let’s talk about Cabernet Sauvignon wines: they tend to have a bolder flavor profile than Merlots, with assertive tannins and notes of cassis, tobacco leaf, graphite or bell pepper.

Merlot Wines

Merlot wines tend to be smoother and more approachable than other varietals, so even if you don’t usually go for reds, it’s worth giving them a try. Merlot typically has less tannins than cabernet sauvignon, making it easier on the palate. Its flavor profile is lighter and fruitier compared to its bolder counterpart, with notes of berry, plum and black cherry. Merlot also tends to have lower acidity levels which make it an ideal pairing for dishes like roast chicken or fish. All in all, it’s a great option for those looking for an easy-drinking red wine that still packs plenty of flavor. On the other hand…

Cabernet Wines

If you’re looking to try a bolder red, cabernet sauvignon is the perfect choice. It has more tannins and higher acidity levels than merlot making it a great option for those who appreciate fuller-bodied wines. Cabernet sauvignon also typically has a higher alcohol content than merlot, adding to its full flavor. This difference in alcohol content can help distinguish between the two types of wine when tasting them side by side.

Difference in Alcohol Content

Unbelievably, the amount of alcohol in a Merlot and Cabernet can vary drastically! Generally, Merlots typically contain 13.5-15% alcohol by volume (ABV). Meanwhile, Cabernets are usually between 13.5-15.5% ABV. This difference may not seem drastic on paper, however it can make a noticeable difference when you’re drinking the wines side by side:

  • Merlots have a softer mouthfeel and are generally sweeter than their counterparts due to its lower ABV level.
  • Cabernets have bolder tannins that add complexity and structure to the wine’s flavor profile making them more robust and full-bodied.
  • The higher ABV levels of Cabernets also means they last longer in storage making them better for aging potential than Merlots which tend to be drunk within 2 years of bottling as opposed to 5-10 years for Cabernet wines.
  • Additionally, due to their lower alcohol content, Merlots often pair better with certain foods than do their more alcoholic cousins – particularly cream based sauces or dishes with sweet components like pork and chicken dishes.
    This variance in alcohol content leads us into our next topic: differences in aging potential…

Differences in Aging Potential

Surprisingly, the aging potential of a Merlot and Cabernet can vary significantly, with the former typically to be consumed within two years of bottling and the latter capable of lasting up to a decade. To illustrate this further, let’s take a look at some common characteristics associated with each type of wine:

Characteristic Merlot Cabernet
Aging Potential 2-3 Years 5-10 Years
Color Intensity Medium Bodied & Fruity Flavors Full Bodied & Structured Flavors
Tannins Low High
Acidity Soft Firm
Price Point Moderate Expensive

As you can see from the table above, Merlot is a softer bodied wine that is characterized by its low tannin levels and soft acidity. It tends to have medium-bodied flavors that begin to fade after two or three years. In contrast, cabernet has full-bodied flavors and high tannin levels that allow it to age for up to 10 years if stored properly. Its firm acidity also contributes to its longevity in terms of flavor intensity over time. These differences in aging potential between merlot and cabernet make them ideal for different occasions and price points…

Difference in Price Point

You’ll find that Merlot’s moderate price point is perfect for everyday sipping, while Cabernet’s higher cost makes it ideal for special occasions. Generally speaking, one bottle of Merlot will cost you anywhere from $10-$20, making it an affordable choice for budget conscious wine drinkers. On the other hand, Cabernet Sauvignon often costs between $15-$30 per bottle and even more in some circumstances.

Furthermore, quality bottles of either varietal can range from $50 to hundreds or even thousands of dollars depending on rarity and vintage. For those looking to try something a bit more exclusive, there are many elite wines made with both Merlot and Cabernet grapes offering a unique tasting experience.

In conclusion:

  • A bottle of Merlot typically costs $10 -$20
  • A bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon typically costs $15 -$30
  • Quality bottles can range from $50 to hundreds or even thousands

Frequently Asked Questions

What region is Merlot from?

You might be surprised to learn that merlot is the most planted wine grape in France! The main regions for growing merlot are Bordeaux, South West France, and Piedmont. Merlot grapes produce wines that tend to be rounder and softer than Cabernet Sauvignon wines. They have aromas of blackberry, plum, and chocolate and usually require less aging time than Cabernets. Enjoy exploring this unique variety of wine!

Is Merlot better for cooking than Cabernet?

You may be wondering if merlot is better for cooking than cabernet. Generally, the answer is yes – merlot has a milder flavor and less tannin than cabernet, making it more suitable for use in dishes. Merlot also has softer flavors of red fruit such as cherries and plums that work well with sauces and marinades. Cabernet Sauvignon tends to have bolder flavors of dark fruits like blackberries and currants, which can overpower other ingredients in a dish.

Are there any health benefits associated with drinking Merlot or Cabernet?

You might be wondering if there are any health benefits associated with drinking either merlot or cabernet. The good news is that both types of wine can provide some health benefits when consumed in moderation. Merlot contains antioxidants and resveratrol, which may help to reduce cholesterol levels and improve heart health. Meanwhile, cabernet has been found to contain higher levels of these beneficial compounds than other types of red wines, so it could potentially offer even more protection against cardiovascular disease. Additionally, both merlot and cabernet contain moderate amounts of vitamin B6 and iron, as well as small amounts of potassium and magnesium. So go ahead and enjoy a glass of one or the other – they both could give you a few extra perks!

How does Merlot or Cabernet pair with different foods?

When it comes to pairing food with wine, Merlot and Cabernet are both excellent choices. Merlot is known for its smooth flavors that pair well with beef dishes like steak or stew, as well as chicken and pork. It also pairs nicely with mushrooms, root vegetables, and other earthy flavors. Cabernet Sauvignon is a fuller-bodied red wine that pairs best with big-flavored foods like lamb or game meats; however, it can also be enjoyed alongside beef or vegetable dishes. Both wines are surprisingly versatile when paired correctly – experiment to find the perfect combination for your next meal!

Is there a difference in taste between Merlot and Cabernet from different wineries?

Surprising as it may seem, the taste difference between Merlot and Cabernet from different wineries is surprisingly subtle. You’d think that a winery’s unique microclimate or soil type would make for an easily distinguishable flavor profile – but in actual fact, you’d be hard-pressed to tell them apart. Just goes to show you how important it is to find a winery whose wines you really like!


You may have heard that Merlot and Cabernet wines are vastly different, but the truth is they’re actually quite similar. Both offer a full-bodied flavor with notes of dark fruit and can be aged for years. The main difference between the two wines comes down to their alcohol content and price point. Merlot tends to have a lower alcohol content than Cabernet, and it’s usually more affordable. So if you’re looking for an excellent wine without breaking your budget, then Merlot is the way to go! However, if you want something special for a special occasion or dinner party, then splurge on some good quality Cabernet. Either way, you’ll be sure to enjoy either one!

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