Merlot and Shiraz are red wine varietals that differ in body, flavor profile and growing locations. Merlot tends to be fruit-forward and smooth, while Shiraz tends to be earth-forward with more tannins.
Merlot grapes are commonly grown in the Bordeaux region of France and moister climates of California, Washington and Italy. Merlot wines are typically medium-bodied with flavors of plum, berries, cherry and chocolate.
Shiraz, which is synonymous with Syrah, is a bold, full-bodied red varietal. Shiraz wines are typically earthy, peppery, smoky and herbal. Shiraz tends to be high in tannins, giving it a gritty mouthfeel. Shiraz is widely grown throughout the Rhone region of France, and in Australia and California.