Category Archives: Wine Comparison

Merlot vs Malbec: How you can recognise them in blind tasting?

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.


Shiraz vs Pinotage

One is hero of Australia and other plays well in South Africa. Though same in colour, these two grape varieties have different characteristics. So let’s check out all of them one by one in Shiraz vs Pinotage.


Shiraz is a dark-skinned, black grape producing red wines and the signature variety of Australia. Wine produced from this grape is called Shiraz in Australia and South Africa and Syrah in other parts of the world.

A red wine grape, Pinotage is South Africa’s signature red variety which produces deep red varietal wines. It’s a high-yielding variety.

Shiraz, on other hand, is at least 4 centuries-old variety (as documented) having its roots coming from France’s Rhone Valley. It was brought to Australia by James Busby – who’s known to be the father of Australian wine.

Pinotage is a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsaut which was bred in 1925 by Abraham Izak Perold. He was the first Professor of Viticulture in South Africa’s oldest university Stellenbosch.

Tasting Notes
Shiraz grapes produce medium to full-bodied, dark red coloured wines. When aged on oak, Shiraz wines gain complexity on aromas, medium+ to high levels of tannins, and medium+ acid. Depending on the region where these grapes are grown, tasting notes may include flavours of blackberry, blueberry, black pepper, eucalyptus, licorice, coffee, chocolate, leather, and herbaceous earth.

Pinotage wines have smoky, bramble and earthy characters, and may also have notes of bananas and tropical fruit. Pinotage is often blended with Shiraz and other varieties. This variety also makes good fortified wines and red sparkling wines.

Wine Regions
Shiraz is mainly planted in Australia, South Africa, the United States, Canada, and some other countries. Despite being genetically identical, the Shiraz grape from Australia tastes and looks different compared to its European siblings (Syrah), especially when grown in warm climates.

Apart from South Africa, Pinotage is also grown in the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Israel, Zimbabwe and Brazil, with recent varietal experiments being done in Germany as well.

Food Pairing
Shiraz wines are good to go with grilled or roast beef, big beefy stews, roast or grilled lamb, and strong hard cheeses especially cheddar.

Pinotage wines pair well with Chicken Bobotie, Biryani, Cape Malay Fish Curry, Braai, Boerewors, Curry Potjie, Beef Shin, tomato & olive stew.

How Shiraz, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir Stack Up Against One Another

For the uninitiated, navigating the wide world of wines can be extremely difficult. There is so much to learn and know about wine, that it can get brain-numbing pretty quickly.


Let’s start off easy with the following 3 wine styles –

  • Shiraz

Shiraz is usually regarded as the ‘king’ of red wine grapes, is arguably the most popular grape variety around the world.

Shiraz varietals are generally full-bodied, bold, complex and intense. These strong wines are filled with tannins, making them hearty and powerful drinks to consume.

These wines match very well with red meats, hearty stews and wild game meats.

Shiraz wines are planted abundantly across Australia, California and the popular Rhone Valley of France.

  • Chardonnay

Amongst white wines, Chardonnay is probably the most popular grape variety.

Usually, Chardonnay wine varietals feature citrus, apple, pear and peach flavours, with an assortment of characters like vanilla, honeysuckle, lemon zest, almond and coconut.

These delicious flavours go well along with dishes like oysters, chicken breast, peas, goat cheese and mushrooms.

Chardonnay plantings can be found in California, France, New Zealand & Australia.

  • Pinot Noir

Pinot is earthy, has a lighter colour, and exhibits low to medium tannin density.

A flexible and easy drinking red variety, it features mushroom, cut hay and leather nuances dominated by fruity flavours of raspberries & rhubarb.

Fatty fish, pasta, meaty stews and casseroles are suggested food pairings with Pinot wines.

Pinot Noir can be found in abundance in Australia, Canada, UK and France.

Now that you’ve learnt a bit about all 3 of these wine types – you have to look deep within & figure out what kind of tastes do you have. Only then would you be able to judge which of these wines would work the best for you – Shiraz vs Chardonnay vs Pinot Noir.

If you cannot decide, just rush to your nearest wine store & pick up a bottle of each of these 3 varieties. Invite a couple of friends over, bring out a bunch of new wine glasses, prepare 1 or 2 meat dishes, and voila, you are all set for a wine tasting session. Cheers!

Shiraz vs Merlot vs Chardonnay: How the Three Compare with Each Other

Are you a newbie to the world of wines? Just as a heads up, you will hear words like ‘palate’, ‘cellaring’ & ‘vintage’ a lot. You will also have to struggle to understand what it all means. But don’t you worry, we’ll help you start simple. To begin, just know that there are 2 kinds of wines – red and white.

Shiraz vs Merlot vs Chardonnay

To start you off easy, we recommend you the following 3 wine types –


  • Shiraz can easily be considered the ‘king’ of red wine grapes, and is arguably the most popular red grape variety across the world.
  • Shiraz wines are generally full-bodied, robust, complex and dense. This powerful variety is filled with tannins, and is an intense and hearty wine to consume.
  • It pairs exceptionally well with red meats, steaks, thick stews and wild game.
  • Shiraz grapevines are planted abundantly in California, Australia, and the Rhone Valley in France.


  • Merlot is a soft & fleshy type of grape. It is used to create mild and juicy red wines showing the purity of fruit. For a beginner, Merlot is a really nice choice.
  • The delicate, fruity flavours of plums, currants and berries take your mouth on a pleasing journey, which can be enhanced by pairing it with foods of all kinds.
  • Softer Merlots match well with mushrooms, salmon and green veggies. Light-bodied Merlot wines tend to go well with bacon, prawns and scallops.
  • DO NOT drink a Merlot with strong or blue cheeses since they can overwhelm the fruity & joyous flavours of this wine style.
  • Merlot vines excel in various regions like California, Chile, Australia, Italy and the Bordeaux district in France.


  • To most people, Chardonnay is the only white wine name they know & can pronounce correctly.
  • Chardonnays mainly feature citrus, pear, apple and peach flavours, with a variety of added elements like vanilla, lemon zest, honeysuckle, coconut and almond.
  • These flavours pair elegantly with cuisines like chicken breast, oysters, goat cheese, peas and mushrooms.
  • Chardonnay is planted extensively in France, California, Australia and New Zealand.

Now that you know a little know a bit about all 3 wine types, you have to decide which one you want to try first – Shiraz vs Merlot vs Chardonnay. If you don’t like it at first, don’t you worry. It takes time getting used to the taste of any wine. Also, not every wine suits every tongue, so move on to another variety if one seems “unlikable”.

Single Varietal Wine Tutorial: Pinot Noir vs Cabernet Sauvignon vs Shiraz

Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Shiraz – all three of them are very popular wine varieties of Australia. All of them also happen to be Red. When poured into glasses, the single varietals of these wines look very similar.

Pinot Noir vs Cabernet Sauvignon vs Shiraz

So how can you identify them in a blind tasting? This wine tutorial will help you gain some basic knowledge when you are stuck and can’t proceed with Pinot Noir vs Cabernet Sauvignon vs Shiraz.


Arrange the glasses in a row and observe the colour. The one with the lightest colour intensity will be Pinot Noir. This is the simplest way to differentiate Pinot Noir from Cabernet and Shiraz. Moving forward, Cab Sauv and Shiraz wines are medium to full-bodied wines and look very similar in terms of appearance. So, for further identification, swirl the two glasses (except the one identified as Pinot Noir). The one with purple tints will be Shiraz and the one with crimson hues would be Cabernet Sauvignon. Move to aromas, if not able to differentiate between Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz.


Sniff the glasses carefully one by one. Observe the aromas. Pinot Noir releases fruity aromas of strawberries, raspberries and red cherries. Then move to Cabernet Sauvignon and notice the difference between the intensity. Cabernet has notes of black fruits instead of red. The Cab Sauv wine will have notes of blackcurrants, dark plums and black cherries. Shiraz, on another hand, can be easily identified for its peppery aromas infused with fragrances of berries, currants and even chocolate. If confused, taste the wine and give your final verdict after identifying the flavours of Pinot Noir, Cabernet and Shiraz.


Make sure all the three wines are dry and not sweet. Taste the Pinot Noir first for perfect comparison. Assess each wine carefully on its body, tannin, acidity, alcohol level, flavour intensity, and length. The one with the lightest body is Pinot Noir. Pinot Noir would be more acidic in comparison to Cab Sauv and Shiraz. Shiraz will have high alcohol level than Cab Sauv.

This way, you can easily give your verdict on blind tasting Pinot Noir vs Cabernet Sauvignon vs Shiraz. Do share if this wine tutorial helped you or not in the comments section below.


Merlot Vs Pinot Noir – 6 Important Factors that Decide How Popular These Are

Merlot and Pinot Noir are among the most prominent red wine varieties preferred by wine lovers around the globe. Though both wines are crafted using different varieties of dark grapes, these premium red varietals are served at room temperature and contain an alcohol level of 12 -13%. Both Merlot and Pinot Noir wines contain fewer tannins. More than the similarities, the popularity of these red wines is mostly decided on the basis of their colour and strength in terms of flavours and texture.

Merlot Vs Pinot Noir: The Differences

Factors Merlot Pinot Noir
Primary grape growing region Merlot grapes are easy to nurture and are mostly cultivated in Wrattonbully, Barossa Valley, and McLaren Vale wine regions of Australia.   Pinot Noir grapes are mostly grown in cooler climate regions around the world. In Australia, this grape variety is grown in Beechworth, Mornington Peninsula, Yarra Valley and Adelaide Hills.
Colour Merlot displays a deep and intense colour. Pinot Noir has a lighter hue in comparison to Merlot.
Tastes/ Flavours Merlot is an easy drinking wine owing to its soft and round texture Pinot Noir has a strong flavour profile than Merlot. It is fresh and delicate.
Aromas Merlot often flaunts black cherry, plum and herb aromas. Pinot Noir displays fruity aromas of cherries, plums and strawberries, with earthy hints of leather, oak and tea leaf evident in the backdrop.  
Tannins/ acidity Merlot contains less acidity. Pinot Noir contains medium to high acidity.
Food pairings Most Merlot wines can be enjoyed with any kind of food but pairs best with dishes that include beef and lamb.   Pinot Noir wines compliment foods like grilled salmon or chicken and taste amazing with most of the Japanese dishes.


Cab Sauv or Merlot: How to Tell the Difference

Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot wines share many similarities, but this doesn’t mean that they don’t have any distinct properties. For an occasional wine drinker, it might be difficult to differentiate between a Cab Sauv and a Merlot wine. But there are subtle differences that you can notice when you begin understanding these wines properly.

Here’s how you can go about comparing the two wines with one another:

cabernet sauvignon vs merlot


Cabernet Sauvignon is a small and thick skinned grape. Hence, single varietal wine produced from these grapes is rich in tannins and colour as well. When compared to Merlot, Cab Sauv wines are more powerful, dry, dense in colour and take more time to age in bottle before opening.

Merlot is a sweet and soft grape as compared to the Cab Sauv. Single varietal Merlot wines are juicy with flavours of cherry and chocolate and easy on drinking. These wines take less time in aging and taste best when enjoyed young and fresh.


Merlot is often blended with wines to beat the bitterness of tannins. Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, on the other hand,  are used to add a drier flavour to wines that are too sweet.


Premier Cabernet Sauvignon producing wine regions are Coonawarra and Margaret River. Merlot is more popular in Coonawarra, Margaret River, McLaren Vale and the Barossa Valley regions.

Food Pairing

Cab Sauv wines are rich in flavour, so avoid pairing them with delicate meals. Full bodied Cab Sauv wines taste best with heavy protein-rich dishes like steak, wild pheasant, or duck. Consider less oily fish like tuna or swordfish for a medium to light bodied styles.

Since Merlot wines are lighter on tannins and are sweeter, these can be paired with a variety of foods. Merlot is a great combination of most of the Italian dishes or tomato-based dishes. The wine also justifies savoury flavours of roasted chicken, Parmesan cheese, and mushrooms.