Which Is Sweeter Merlot Or Shiraz?

Are you trying to decide between a Merlot and Shiraz for your next dinner party? Choosing the right wine is important, especially when it comes to sweetness. Merlot and Shiraz are two of the most popular types of red wines, each with its own unique flavor profile. In this article we’ll discuss the color, taste differences, factors that influence sweetness, food pairings and serving tips so you can make an informed decision when choosing between these two delightful wines. Let’s get started!

Overview of Merlot and Shiraz

Understanding the differences between Merlot and Shiraz can lead to a richer appreciation of their distinctive flavors. Merlot, a red wine grape variety, is grown in several regions around the world including Bordeaux in France, California’s Central Coast, and Chile’s Maipo Valley. It has bold tannins and smooth texture that appeal to many wine drinkers. Shiraz, another red grape variety, is known for its spicy character and intense fruit flavors; it is often referred to as Syrah in Europe and Australia where it originated. This type of wine is usually produced with a full body that complements food well. Both Merlot and Shiraz offer robust tastes with complex aromas that vary by region of production. With this knowledge of the grapes’ backgrounds, one can begin to explore subtle color and taste differences between them.

Color and Taste Differences

Let’s start by examining Merlot characteristics. Generally, Merlots have a softer body and lower tannin levels than other red wines, making them fruity and smooth with flavors of cherry, plum, blackberry, and cocoa. On the palate they tend to be sweet while still maintaining their balance of acidity and tannins. Now let’s look at Shiraz characteristics. Shiraz usually has a higher alcohol content than most other wines; it is also often more full-bodied with higher tannin levels compared to Merlot. The flavor profile contains notes of berry fruits like blackberry and blueberry as well as pepper spice and earthiness.

Merlot Characteristics

You know merlot for its full-bodied flavor and smooth tannins, but did you know it typically has a lower alcohol content than shiraz with an average of 12.5% to 14.5%? Merlot is also known for having aromas of dark cherries, plums, blackberries and herbs. It’s often described as being ‘earthy’ or ‘mellow’, making it a popular choice among wine enthusiasts who find more intense red wines too overpowering. The flavor profiles are usually dominated by the sweet fruit flavors with hints of chocolate and coffee on the finish. Merlot can be enjoyed with many different types of food; however, it really shines when paired with dishes such as grilled vegetables or roasted meat. As far as sweetness goes, merlot is certainly sweeter than shiraz. Its low tannin levels give it a softer feel that leads to a pleasant sweetness on the palate that lingers long after the sip is taken. Despite this difference in sweetness, both wines have their own unique complexities that make them enjoyable in their own right. Moving forward, let’s take a look at what makes shiraz stand out from other red wines.

Shiraz Characteristics

Rich and intense, shiraz offers a burst of bold flavor that tantalizes the taste buds. Its full-bodied nature is often characterized by notes of tobacco, black pepper, berry fruits and aniseed. It’s also typically high in alcohol content due to its powerful fruit flavors:

  • Sweetness is balanced by firm tannins
  • Spicy character can range from mild to robust
  • Oak aging can impart a vanilla or smoky flavor
  • Earthy undertones may be present depending on origin

Shiraz’s unique characteristics provide layers of complexity that make it a popular choice for many wine drinkers. As these elements interact with one another, they influence the final sweetness of the wine.

Factors That Influence the Sweetness of Wine

You may be wondering which of the two wines, Merlot or Shiraz, is sweeter. To answer this question, it’s important to consider both the sugar content and alcohol content in each wine. Generally speaking, higher sugar content will result in a sweeter taste while higher alcohol content can overpower the sweetness of a wine.

Sugar Content

Although it’s difficult to definitively say which is sweeter, generally speaking, merlot has a slightly higher sugar content than shiraz. The sugar content for both wines can vary from vintage to vintage but as an overall comparison, merlot tends to have:

  • More residual sugar (RS):
  • Merlot RS ranges from 1-30 g/L while Shiraz RS ranges from 0-25 g/L.
  • Higher degrees brix (°Bx):
  • Merlot °Bx typically falls between 17-23 °Bx while Shiraz usually falls somewhere between 14-20 °Bx.
  • Higher potential alcohol (PA):
  • Merlot PA ranges from 11%-15% while Shiraz typically falls between 9%-14%.
    Knowing the differences in sugar content between the two wines can be helpful when selecting which one will be best suited for your palate. Moving on, when considering the sweetness of these two wines you should also take into account their…

Alcohol Content

Moving on from sugar content, let’s take a look at the alcohol content of merlot and shiraz. Generally speaking, merlot has an alcohol content that is slightly lower than shiraz. On average, the alcohol by volume (ABV) for merlot wines falls around 12-14%, while shirz generally has an ABV ranging between 14-16%. Merlot Shiraz
12-14% 14-16%
Low to Moderate Moderate to High

That being said, there are certain exceptions depending on where the grapes were grown and what kind of winemaking techniques were used. Nonetheless, it’s safe to conclude that merlot tends to be slightly lower in alcohol compared with shiraz. This can be beneficial for those who prefer more subtle flavors or want a wine that won’t overpower their meal. Now let’s explore food pairings for both types of wine.

Food Pairings

You’ll find that both merlot and shiraz are delicious when paired with a range of foods, each bringing their own unique notes to the table. Merlot pairs well with lighter fare such as salads, veggie dishes, grilled white fish, mushrooms and roasted chicken. It is also good with hard cheeses like parmesan or cheddar. Shiraz goes great with barbecued meats, especially pork and lamb dishes. Additionally it pairs nicely with hearty pastas and pizza topped with sausages or peppers.

Additionally, both offer a nice contrast to spicy cuisine like Mexican or Indian dishes due to their sweetness and acidity levels. You can also find many desserts that pair perfectly with either merlot or shiraz – dark chocolate mousse cake, cherry tartlets and apple crumbles all benefit from the complexity of these wines’ flavors.

Serving Tips

To really enjoy the complexity of merlot and shiraz, serve them slightly chilled for optimal flavor. For Merlot, the ideal serving temperature is between 53-62 degrees Fahrenheit (12-17 degrees Celsius). Shiraz should be served between 59-65 degrees Fahrenheit (15-18 degrees Celsius). To ensure your wines stay at their desired temperatures, keep a wine refrigerator or store them in a cool area of your home.

Temperature Ranges Merlot Shiraz
Fahrenheit 53-62°F 59-65°F
Celsius 12-17°C 15-18°C

When it comes to pouring your wines, use smaller glasses that are tulip shaped to maximize aromas and flavors. Also, adding in some water can help balance out any tannins or sweetness from the wines. This will also help lower the alcohol content if you’re looking for something lighter and easier to drink.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the alcohol content of Merlot and Shiraz?

When discussing the alcohol content of merlot and shiraz, it’s important to keep in mind that the percentages can vary depending on the type of wine. Generally speaking, merlot usually contains about 13-15% alcohol, while shiraz has slightly higher levels ranging from 14-17%. However, there are exceptions to these rules, so be sure to check labels before purchasing or consuming either wine.

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

You may be surprised to learn that there are actually several health benefits associated with drinking merlot or shiraz. Did you know that drinking a moderate amount of red wine is linked to reduced risk of heart disease? Studies have found that some antioxidants, such as resveratrol, which is found in both Merlot and Shiraz wines, can help reduce inflammation and improve cardiovascular health. Additionally, consuming a glass of red wine per day has also been linked to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes. So why not enjoy a glass of Merlot or Shiraz the next time you’re looking for an enjoyable beverage?

Are Merlot and Shiraz suitable for aging?

When it comes to aging, both merlot and shiraz are suitable choices. Merlot is a full-bodied red wine that ages well, developing more complex flavors over time. Shiraz is a bolder and spicier wine than merlot and also has excellent aging potential. Both wines can be enjoyed shortly after purchase or aged for several years, depending on your preference.

What is the difference between Merlot and Shiraz wines from different regions?

You may be wondering what the difference between merlot and shiraz wines from different regions is. The truth is that the taste of a wine can vary greatly depending on where it comes from. For example, some merlots are known for their bold, dark fruit flavors while shiraz wines often have a spicier, more peppery flavor profile. Additionally, the climate and soil conditions of each region can also influence how sweet or dry a particular wine tastes. So no matter which one you’re looking for, there are sure to be differences in flavor between regions.

What is the price difference between Merlot and Shiraz?

When it comes to price, there is no definitive answer when comparing merlot and shiraz wines. The cost of a bottle of either type of wine can vary significantly depending on the region where it was grown, the winemaker’s reputation, and other factors. Generally speaking, however, you can expect to pay more for a high-end bottle of shiraz than you would for a similarly priced merlot.


You’ve learned that merlot and shiraz are two popular wines, and each has its own unique flavor profile. Merlot is a medium-bodied red wine, with a soft berry character and subtle sweetness. Shiraz, on the other hand, is full-bodied and bold with notes of pepper and spice. The sweetness of any wine can vary depending on the terroir it’s grown in or how long it’s been aged for. Whatever you choose to drink, one thing is certain: you’ll be enjoying an amazing experience – so delicious that it will feel like you’re drinking liquid gold!

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