Is Shiraz sweet or Merlot?

Answered by Jason Smith

In my experience, I’ve found that Shiraz and Merlot are two distinct red wines with their own unique characteristics. When it comes to sweetness, Merlot tends to have a sweeter profile compared to Shiraz. The sweetness in Merlot comes from its fruity flavors, which can include notes of black cherry, plum, and raspberry. It’s these fruity undertones that give Merlot its pleasant sweetness.

On the other hand, Shiraz is known for being less sweet and more robust in flavor. While it still has some fruitiness, it tends to lean more towards savory and spicy flavors. Shiraz often exhibits notes of black pepper, blackberry, and tobacco, which contribute to its boldness and complexity. This makes Shiraz a great choice for those who prefer a drier, less sweet wine.

Another difference between the two is their alcohol content. Typically, Shiraz has a slightly higher alcohol content than Merlot. Shiraz can range from 10 to 14 percent alcohol, while Merlot usually falls within the range of 13.5 to 14.5 percent. This difference in alcohol content can affect the overall body and richness of the wine.

When it comes to tannins, Shiraz tends to have higher levels compared to Merlot. Tannins are compounds found in grape skins, stems, and seeds that contribute to the dryness and astringency of a wine. While Merlot has low tannins, Shiraz can have a more pronounced tannic structure. This can give Shiraz a slightly drier mouthfeel and a longer finish compared to Merlot.

In terms of appearance, Shiraz is typically a dark red wine, almost opaque in color. The deep, rich hue of Shiraz is often a result of extended skin contact during the winemaking process. On the other hand, Merlot is a lighter red wine, displaying a more translucent and ruby-like color in the glass.

The differences between Shiraz and Merlot go beyond just sweetness. While Merlot offers a sweeter profile with lower tannins and a lighter body, Shiraz provides a bolder, less sweet experience with higher alcohol content and more pronounced tannins. It ultimately comes down to personal preference and what flavor profile you enjoy in a red wine.