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Cabernet Sauvignon vs. Merlot

Merlot and Cabernet, they’re the two most popular red wines in America, but many people don’t know what makes each of them different and unique, or why you might prefer one to the other, so we’re here to help.

Both Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon originated in the Bordeaux region of France in the 15th century; however, the grapes that are used in these two wines thrive in very different conditions.

Cabernet Sauvignon thrives when planted in the gravely soil as was found in the Médoc region along the Left Bank. Gravel-based soil is well drained, yielding to the conditions that this particular type of vine needs. It also has the added benefit of absorbing the heat from the environment and delivering it to the vines, which helps the fruit ripen much more quickly.

Merlot grows much better in the clay and limestone-based soils that are found along the Right Bank in the Gironde estuary region; however, this type of soil holds a much cooler temperature resulting in a delayed ripening.

Not surprisingly, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon are often blended together. The fruitiness of the Merlot is used to combat the bitterness of the tannin that is often present in Cabernet wines. In general, Merlot is used to sweeten more bitter wines and Cabernet is used to add a drier flavor to wines that are too sweet.

While these two wines are produced in similar areas and utilize very similar techniques, they have significant differences that everyone should understand when trying to make the perfect selection.

No one grape is better than the other, they’re just different, but it’s what makes them unique that also makes them absolutely delicious, and extremely popular.