Sip Through Your Lips on This: Top 11 Best Merlots in Washington
National Merlot Day wouldn’t be complete without a handy guide to drinking the best Merlots in the Yakima Valley. Having lived here for two decades has taught me a thing or two about how to detect the best flavors of red wine.
“Merlot’s lower tannin levels result in a soft, velvety finish with notes of black fruits, chocolate, and a touch of spice.” - Masterclass
Let’s look at the criteria that wine judges look for in a Merlot and then I’ll tell you eleven great wineries to find your Merlot delight.
But first, a shout out to all my Cardboardeaux Juice Box fans!
WHAT DO WINE JUDGES LOOK FOR IN A MERLOT?
The Merlot grape is found in Saint-Émilion, France in the Bordeaux wine region. A great Merlot has low acidity and a low balance of tannins, yet the Merlot grapes found in Washington state are more robust than those found in France.
“Washington merlots have higher acidity, with a tannic bite, and a strong cherry and berry presence.” - Masterclass
A great wine judge strives to become certified by the American Wine Society. Once you complete three years of intense (and delicious) studies, you can take the exam to get certified as a CWJ (certified wine judge).
HOW MANY CERTIFIED WINE JUDGES ARE IN WASHINGTON STATE?
There are currently three certified wine judges in Washington state:
- Leanne Stacey
- Michael Stacey
- Dawne Swanson
Wine judges look for these elements when giving awards for Merlot wines:
- FLAVOR OF THE MERLOT
- TEXTURE OF THE MERLOT
- THE AGING POTENTIAL OF THE MERLOT
- THE BALANCE AND ACIDITY OF THE MERLOT
- APPEARANCE OF THE MERLOT
- AROMA OF THE MERLOT
YOU HAD ME AT MERLOT: 11 of the Best Merlot Wines in WA State 
Gallery Credit: Reesha Cosby
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