Young Professionals Explore Merlot with #MerlotMe #WinePW

#MerlotMe 2019 – Introduce Merlot to the Next Generation
Wow, this is the fifth year our Wine Pairing Weekend Group and the #MerlotMe wineries are collaborating to celebrate the Merlot grape all through October. Take a look farther down in this post to all all the great ideas from my fellow Wine Pairing Weekend bloggers. During the first 4 years, I showcased 16+ food pairing posts featuring Merlot, so this year I wanted to try something new.

We met in the party room at one of the young professional’s apartment. They brought all the food, I brought the wines.

I shared the sample Merlots with a group of young professionals, ages 23-31. My goals were twofold:

  • Share some worthwhile knowledge on wine in general and in Merlot in particular
  • Learn from my audience about their interests, ideas and perspectives on wine in general and Merlot in particular

The Smell-a-torium: Single Best Tool for Teaching Wine
Helping people understand for themselves how to enjoy a wine’s aromas has always been a key in achieving greater understanding. Bringing real items to smell remains the single best way I have found to help make that connection, and it was confirmed with our group.

The smells, top to bottom, left to right: Raspberry jam, fresh blackberries, dried prunes, forest floor, vanilla bean, fresh herbs, fresh cedar shavings, wet stones, unsweetened oat cereal, balsamic vinegar, leather, tobacco.

First, the group grew comfortable with picking out aromas and also realizing different wines could show different aromas, even when made from the same grape. With that new confidence, they tackled understanding a bit about acidity, tannins and alcohol.

They shared that prior to the direct aroma comparisons, they would have had no context for comparing all these different wines other than whether they liked one or not.

(click on any photo below for a full size slide show. Hit escape to return)

Young Professional Discoveries
The group humored me by answering the question sheet I provided. Here’s what they thought:

Q: What does “Sideways” mean to you?
A: Most had no clue, one person knew it was “a wine movie w/ the guy”.

Q: What foods tasted great with Merlot?
A: All the cheeses were a hit. As a standalone, Brie was judged perfect. Pizza (mostly due to the cheese), mac & cheese. They also thought steak or burgers would be great.

Q: What foods tasted awful with Merlot?
A: Salad (too acidic), ice cream, chocolate cake (which they found surprising)

Q: What movie would you pair with Merlot?
A: Love Actually, British Baking Show, Pride and Prejudice, Holes

Q: Favorite wine of the evening?
A: 3 for Markham Napa Valley, 1 for Seavey, 1 for Duckhorn, 1 for Decoy, 1 for Hedges CMS

#SixWordLoveStory for #MerlotMe
Our group of young professionals were happy to oblige my request to supply material for a #SixWordLoveStory to #MerlotMe. Here they are!


#MerlotMe Posts From the Wine Pairing Weekend Group
Take a look below at all the great ideas for your next bottle of Merlot.

The Merlots in Our Tasting
Before heading over to the event, I tasting through the wines to prepare for discussions with the group. Here are my notes.

Disclosure: The wines in this post were provided as samples. No other compensation was involved. All opinions expressed are mine.

Chateau Haut-Cadet St. Emilion Grand-Cru 2015 (not a sample, for old world reference)
Eye: Clear, medium ruby.
Nose: Clean, medium intensity. fresh ripe strawberries, blueberries, tobacco, leather
Mouth: Dry, medium- intensity. Medium+ acidity, medium+ tannins with a bit of grit. Medium body, medium alchohol, medium finish. Flavors match the nose. Good quality wine with solid structure, perhaps a bit more structure than flavor. Can drink now, suitable for short term aging 3-5 years to develop a bit more.

Hedges Family Estate Columbia Valley AVA CMS Red 2016 ($15 local purchase or online here) 13.5%
Eye: Clear, medium ruby tending to garnet.
Nose: Clean, medium intensity. Blue fruit – dried blueberries with vanilla, coconut, cocoa
Mouth: Dry, medium intensity flavors. Medium acidity, medium fine grained tannins, medium body, medium alcohol, medium finish. Flavors show more red fruit, strawberry notes emerge with other elements following from the nose.  Good quality wine with a good balance between fruit flavors and moderate structure. Drink now, not suitable for aging.

J Lohr Paso Robles Merlot “Los Ossos” 2017 (sample, $15 SRP, or online here) 14% abv
Eye: Clear, medium ruby
Nose: Clean, medium+ intensity. Fresh ripe black cherries, fresh sawn oak, bay leaf, touch of slate.
Mouth: Dry, medium intensity flavors. Medium+ acidity, medium fine grained tannins. Medium body, high alcohol, medium finish dominated by oak. Flavors of ripe black cherries, blackberries, vanilla, bay leaf, toasty oak.  Good quality wine, the fruit and structure are nice, but the oak is taking a bit too much attention. Drink now, not suitable for aging.

Decoy Sonoma County Merlot 2017 (sample, $25 SRP, or online here) 14.1% abv
Eye: Clear, medium ruby-purple.
Nose: Clean, medium intensity. dried blueberry & blackberry, leather, herbs, tomato leaf, caramel some kind of breakfast cereal (a little sweet & oats)
Mouth: Off-dry, medium intensity flavors. Medium+ acidity, medium- fine grain tannins. Immediate impression of sweet ripe fruit with strawberries, blueberries, and other notes from aroma. Medium body, high alcohol, medium finish. Texture isn’t quite plush, but full of sweet fruit.

Very good quality wine with bright sweet fruit. Nice complexity and intensity of flavors with sufficient acid and tannin to provide some structure and balance. Drink now, not suitable for aging. Enjoy the abundant fruit.

Seavey Napa Valley Estate Merlot 2016 (sample, $65 SRP or online here) 14.5% abv
Eye: Hazy (not faulty), medium ruby. Light staining.
Nose: Clean, medium intensity. Clean earth, tobacco, leather, dark blue fruit with plush impression.
Mouth: Dry, medium intensity flavors. High acidity, medium+ fine grained tannins. Full body, rich texture, high alcohol, medium+ finish. Flavors echo the nose, with oak a bit more noticeable though not overbearing. Dark ripe blueberries, clean earth, leather.

Outstanding wine with nice balance between fruit and non-fruit flavors and aromas. Full body with excellent structure.  This is a big boned
American wine but it’s in excellent balance. Can definitely drink now if you like a wine with some structure, will definitely improve with additional aging 5-10 years.

Markham Vineyards Napa Valley Yountville Estate Vineyard Merlot 2015 (sample, $55 SRP or online here) 14.8% abv
Eye: Clear, medium ruby-purple, with medium staining and tears
Nose: Clean, medium intensity. Deep ripe fruit – strawberries, blackberries, pie filling. Subtle vanilla and baking spices with a bit of black pepper.
Mouth: Dry, medium+ intensity flavor. Medium+ acidity, medium fine grained tannins. Full body, high alcohol, plush texture. Flavors of plush, ripe fruit with subtle notes of vanilla, spices and pepper. Medium+ finish dominated by sweet red fruit.

Very good quality wine with deep, intense flavors and plush texture with plenty of structure to provide balance. Can enjoy now, suitable for aging 5 years, definitely enjoy before the fruit starts to fade.

Duckhorn Napa Valley Merlot 2016 (sample $56 SRP or online here)14.5% abv

Eye: Clear, medium ruby
Nose: Clean, medium+ intensity. Bright, ripe strawberry fruit, cocoa, coffee, bay leaf.
Mouth: Dry, medium+ intensity flavor. Medium acidity, medium- fine grain tannins. Full body, high alcohol, rich texture with medium+ length finish with lingering cocoa notes.

Very good quality wine with excellent balance between intensity of fruit, complexity from non-fruit flavors and good structure to support the flavors. Can enjoy now, suitable for aging 5-10 years if further tertiary flavors are enjoyed.



12 Responses to “Young Professionals Explore Merlot with #MerlotMe #WinePW”
  1. wendyklik says:

    What a fun night. I wish I had been there. I’m going to have to try a bottle of that Markham if it beat out the Duckhorn.

  2. Nicole Ruiz Hudson says:

    It looks like you all had such a good time.

  3. crynning says:

    What a fun evening!! Those young professionals are quite lucky indeed!! Cheers to delicious Merlot (and a few movies for pairing!).

  4. asiantestkitchen says:

    Love this! Nice job educating the young ‘uns on fine wine. I’ve got a Seavey Merlot I’ve been holding on to. Glad at least 1 person picked that as a favorite for the evening. 🙂

  5. Jill Barth says:

    I love this idea! It is so wise to share the bounty with a group of people. Last year, after opening a bunch of Merlot bottles, I took them around to several neighbors and had them finish them as they wished. I mentioned that they were bottles I enjoyed, but not much more than that. I should have had them make some notes. This is an idea for future!

    Thanks for coordinating all of this delight!

  6. I love that you shared your Merlot knowledge and the scent jars are fantastic.. They definitely look like they had a great time! Love the last video.

  7. So much fun! Oh and the videos are priceless. Great memories all around for the whole group.

  8. I wish I had someone like you to introduce me to wine Jeff! I’m loving the smellatorium! The Seavey (the L’Ecole 41 was a close second). Stellar post Jeff!

Check out what others are saying...
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