Pinot Noir Vs. Merlot: Do You Know What's the Difference?

Pinot Noir Vs. Merlot: What's the Difference?
With a number of varieties and choices of red wines in this world, we are spoiled for choices. Does the Pinot Noir vs. Merlot war keep going on in your head whenever you are picking up red wines? If yes, then you are on the right page.
Tastessence Staff
Last Updated: Mar 26, 2018
Most Expensive in the World?
In March 2013, six magnums of 1995 DRC, a brand of Pinot Noir in Hong Kong, was sold for $27,300 USD each at a wine auction.
Since thousands of years, red wine has been a favorite among wine lovers in all corners of the world. Merlot and Pinot Noir make great red wine choices. Both have notably different flavors and are grown in different regions. The wine grapes have their signature flavors and characteristics that impart flavors, color, and texture to the wine.

The main difference lies in their tastes, which is because of the grapes that are used to prepare the wine. They are one of the best wines that go along well with food. Pinot Noir is often termed as the 'demanding diva', 'liquid silk', and 'seductress' of all wines. Merlot makes a good introductory wine for beginners because of its mellow and sweet taste. Both have higher alcohol content of about 12-13% in comparison to other wines. And also, they ripen a bit earlier than other varieties of grapes. Both are different in their own sense.

Want to find out how? Take a look at the main differences between Pinot Noir and Merlot.
Pinot Noir Vs. Merlot
Origin and Grapes
Pinot Noir is a variety of red wine grape that is mostly grown in cooler regions all around the world. It primarily comes from the Burgundy region of France. It is also grown in California, Oregon, Washington, Australia, and New Zealand.
red wine and grapes
It requires a cool season for a long time and is usually grown in limestone soil. Growing this varietal is rather difficult as compared to others. There is a limited production of these grapes because of the tough growing conditions. It is vulnerable to diseases as it has a thin skin. The origin of this grape dates back to the 1st century in ancient France.
Merlot, on the other hand, is easy to grow. It is primarily cultivated in Bordeaux, France, being second in terms of cultivation. The grapes are dark blue in color, and have thinner skin, less tannin and acidity, and higher sugar content.
bottle of red wine
It is one of the most popular red wine grapes of all and grows best in clay and limestone-based soils. The wine produced from these grapes is inexpensive in comparison to the others. It is being cultivated since the 17th century, with Cabernet Franc being the father variety of this grape. It rose to popularity in the 1990s.
Wine and Taste
Pinot Noir has a stronger flavor and lighter color than Merlot. It has medium to high acidity with a fruity taste of cherries, raspberries, and plums, and a hint of tea leaves or moist earth. It has a smooth and velvety texture and less tannin content. It has higher alcohol content as compared to other wines. It is rarely blended with other wines. Its taste varies according to the climate, vineyard, season, and the vintner.
Merlot has a mild taste and aromas of blackberries, blueberries, plums, and a few herbal flavors too with less tannin and acidity. It has a deep color as compared to Pinot Noir, and is smoother and soft. It has a higher alcohol content. It is usually blended with Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc to produce a milder and softer wine with lesser tannin. It does not age in bottles and its taste does not get affected if stored for a long time.
Food Pairings
If you are going to an expensive restaurant, Pinot Noir is a great pick because the flavors don't clash with the flavors of the various dishes. The best combination with this diva of a wine is grilled salmon, chicken, lamb, and a few Japanese dishes like sushi rolls.
chicken dinner with wine
Merlot can be had with almost any kind of food, but the best combination includes beef and lamb. It goes well with poultry, pork, red meat, pastas, salads, etc. However, it doesn't go with the strong cheeses because its flavor may overwhelm the flavor of the wine.
chicken dinner with merlot
Cost
If you are going to an expensive restaurant, then Pinot Noir tends to cost more because of its limited production and rarity.

Merlot is less expensive; however, the blended ones may cost more.
So, what have you decided? If you haven't tried both of them before, now's the time to! After all, no one can tell your preferences better than you.