Merlot and Malbec are two red grape varieties widely used in making bold red wines and blends. Where Merlot wines has a successful history which dates back to 1784, Malbec has seen ups and downs since its first vine planted in 19th century. Though very different in genetics, both varieties come from vitis vinifera family and often confuse blind tasters with their almost similar aromas, texture and palate.
Let’s check out some amazing tips on how you can differentiate Merlot vs Malbec wines in a blind tasting.
Check out for the colour first. Though the grapes of both varieties fall in blue category and do not flaunt a red colour, but they produce red wines with hints of purple. Merlot flaunts a dark blue colour, whereas Malbec grape is purple in colour. When poured into a glass, a Merlot varietal wine shows ruby red colour, and a Malbec single varietal features inky dark colour.
Coming to the flavours! Merlot wines are soft and velvety in texture and usually have plum flavours, medium tannins and an elegant finish. It’s fruity and slightly sweet. On contrary, look for robust tannins, plumpy dark fruit flavours and signature smoky finish in Malbec wines. Malbec wines are typically made medium to full-bodied hence can be a great alternative to Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz.
You might have noticed that we’ve not mentioned aromas in this section to determine Malbec and Merlot wines. This is because, both Merlot and Malbec wines may tend to have different aromas depending upon where their fruit are grown. For example, a Merlot grown in warmer region will have different aromas when compared to Merlot grown in cooler climates. You will usually find aromas of black cherry, berries, plum, chocolate, and some herbs in Merlot wines. Similar is the case with Malbec. Cool climate Malbecs will have red fruit flavours like black cherry and raspberry, whereas warm climate Malbecs will have black fruit flavours such as plum and blackberry.
As you can see, both wines have almost similar aromatics, this is why it is difficult to differentiate these wines with just sniffing. With the brilliant tricks mentioned above you can get expertise in differentiating Merlot vs Malbec wines, but for that you need to drink them. Try them buying on discounts by subscribing to Trophy Club or taking VIP membership plan by Just Wines.