Merlot is a dry red wine that is usually characterized by violet, cherry, orange and plum flavors. It contains less tannins than other types of dry red wines, including Cabernet Sauvignon, which means it can be harvested and drunk earlier than other wines in its class.
Because merlot is not suitable for long aging, it's often blended with Cabernet and French Bordeaux wines to create mellow-bodied wine blends. When enjoyed alone, merlot pairs well with chocolate, pizza, salmon, tuna, steak and chicken dishes, as well as spaghetti with Bolognese sauce. To experience its optimal flavor, merlot should be served at 64 degrees Fahrenheit.