December 6, 2022


Ways to Appreciate the World’s Most Misunderstood Varietal on International Merlot Day

Ways to Appreciate the World’s Most Misunderstood Varietal on International Merlot Day

California’s Wine Institute Shares Easy Merlot-Friendly Recipes to Help Time-Pressed Wine Lovers During COVID-19

Got some California Merlot in your wine rack from the market or your last visit to California wine country,  and not sure what to pair it with? You’re not alone. International Merlot Day on November 7 presents the perfect opportunity to appreciate this often-misunderstood wine varietal.

Merlot was often misunderstood in decades past, exacerbated by changing fashions and the film Sideways, where the main character wouldn’t drink it because it was his dreaded ex-wife’s favorite.

Today, California Merlot gets the  respect it deserves, and ranks third in California red varietal sales. Consumers enjoy its soft, approachable and luscious character, with fruity aromas and hints of herbs. There’s also a quality California Merlot for every price point.

In restaurants, a sommelier might recommend pairing a California Merlot with  sautéed duck breasts or roasted pork tenderloin—and at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, when everyone was gung-ho about finally taking time to cook elaborate meals, whipping up one of those dishes would have been  fine and dandy. But after months of quarantining, home-schooling kids and Zoom work meetings, we’re lucky if we can open up a salad bag. And let’s face it, we all want comfort food right now!

To help beleaguered wine lovers out, California’s Wine Institute offers these simple recipes for soul satisfying comfort foods and heart-warming wine cocktails that are easy to make:

California Red Wine Hot Chocolate

When Mama or Daddy needs a cocktail on a chilly day, a California Red Wine Hot Chocolate is just the thing (Editors: link to recipe and high res image is here).  Find this and other comforting holiday wine cocktails in a free recipe ebook here.

Chicken Chilaquiles

Were you snacking on gourmet tortilla chips when no one was looking and forgot to seal the bag? Or did you make your own and have leftovers?  We’ve got you covered with our Chicken Chilaquiles recipe, which works best with homemade chips.

Roasted Butternut Squash and Fennel Soup with Fried Sage

Chilly nights bring on cravings for warm soup. If you’re already battling the COVID 19 pounds, Butternut Squash Soup makes a lighter, healthier alternative to cream-based chowders.
To get more tasty California Merlot friendly recipes, click here.

Too Tired to Cook at All?

If you’d like to get a break from cooking and support local restaurants, Merlot also pairs well with takeout pizza, pastas and roast chicken.

Learn more about California wines at

Established in 1934, Wine Institute is the association of 1,000 California wineries and wine-related businesses that initiate and advocate state, federal and international public policy to enhance the environment for the responsible production, consumption and enjoyment of wine.