Primary: Merlot favors fruity, juicy red and black fruits with heavy plum and cherry flavors. Cooler climate wines maintain moderate acidity and soft tannins and lean toward red fruit flavors. Often described a having a soft, velvety texture, Merlot’s primary fruit flavors can often lend toward being sweet with their super juicy, super ripe flavors although the wine remains dry. Warmer climates bring baked and jam-like black plum and cherry and typically have higher alcohol levels which give more a warm depth to the wine’s fruit forward style. Herbal flavors mimicking bell pepper, green tea and woody herbs may also appear.
Secondary: Oak aging or influences (think oak chips a in the “Have Nots” bulk wines) bring vanilla, baking spice and cedar wood flavors to Merlot.
Tertiary: Aging softens Merlot’s tannins even further. If aged in oak, chocolate, coffee and nutty flavors and aromas add depth and complexity to the wine’s fruit-forward style.