Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, or "Vinny" for short. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the technical aspects of winemaking to the fine points of etiquette. I hope you find my answers educational and even amusing. Looking for a particular answer? Check my archive and my FAQs.
Dear Dr. Vinny,
Is Merlot a one-dimensional wine? I saw a newscast last night from a reputable wine shop and the guy was talking about how simple and one-dimensional Merlots are. I have tasted great Merlots with a lot of depth and structure that were not one-dimensional. Am I wrong?
—Robert, Downey, Calif.
No, Robert. You're not wrong. There are many wonderful Merlot and Merlot-based wines out there. But Merlot does have a bit of an image problem. It wasn't helped by the movie Sideways, which had a character famously shout out, "I'm not drinking any [expletive] Merlot!"
Why the bad rap? Merlot was all the rage in the '90s, loved for its fruity, soft profile. (I like to describe Merlot as a less-tannic version of Cabernet Sauvignon.) One can argue that it was a victim of its own success—planted and overplanted, resulting in some rather uninspiring wines. Wine shelves might be a bit heavy with one-dimensional Merlots, but I can say the same thing about many other wines, too.
Looking for a great Merlot? Check out our Wine Search database. My favorites include the Merlot-based wines of Bordeaux's Right Bank and some wonderful versions from California, Washington, Long Island, Chile and Italy.
Do you have a question for Dr. Vinny? Ask it here...
Learn to taste wine like a pro, pull a cork with flair, get great wine service in a restaurant and more
Learn from the experts and get the most out of each sip. Take one of our online courses or take them all—from the ABCs of Tasting to in-depth seminars on Food Pairing, California Cabernet, Bordeaux, Tuscany, Sensory Evaluation and more.
Sips & Tips | Wine & Healthy Living
Video Theater | Collecting & Auctions