19 Best Food Pairing Options: Merlot Madness

There’s nothing more satisfying than a great meal with the perfect wine pairing. And when it comes to red wines, merlot is a go-to choice for many. 

Its smooth and velvety texture, combined with its fruit-forward flavors, make it a versatile option that can be paired with a wide variety of dishes.

But what is the best food to pair with merlot? Look no further! Here, we will explore the best foods to pair with merlot to elevate your wine and dining experience. 

Whether you’re hosting a dinner party or simply enjoying a glass of wine on a quiet evening at home, merlot is a versatile and delicious choice that is sure to delight your taste buds.

In this post, we’ve compiled a list of the best food pairings for merlot to help you take your dining experience to the next level.

19 Best food to Pair with Merlot

1. Roast Beef

Roast beef and merlot is a classic pairing that is hard to beat. The tannins in the wine cut through the richness of the meat, while the flavors of both enhance each other. 

Roast Beef

To take this pairing to the next level, add some roasted root vegetables on the side for a hearty and delicious meal.

2. Pasta with Tomato-Based Sauce

One of the great things about merlot is that it pairs well with acidic foods, like tomato-based sauces. 

A simple pasta dish with marinara or Bolognese sauce can be elevated with a glass of merlot. 

The wine’s flavors will complement the bright acidity of the tomatoes, while the pasta will help to balance out the tannins.

3. Grilled Lamb

For something a little more sophisticated, try pairing merlot with grilled lamb. 

Grilled Lamb

The earthy flavors of the meat pair perfectly with the fruitiness of the wine, while the tannins help to cut through the richness of the lamb. 

Add some sautéed spinach on the side for a truly elegant meal.

4. Pizza

Merlot may not be the first wine that comes to mind when you think of pizza, but it can actually be a delicious pairing. 

The wine’s fruity flavors match well with the tomato sauce, while the tannins help to balance out the cheese. 

For an added touch of flavor, consider topping your pizza with mushrooms or roasted red peppers.

5. Dark Chocolate

Looking for a sweet pairing for your merlot? Look no further than dark chocolate. 

Dark Chocolate

The wine’s tannins pair well with the bitterness of the chocolate, while the fruitiness of the wine helps to bring out the chocolate’s flavors. This is the perfect pairing for a cozy night in or a special occasion dessert.

6. Steak

There are few wine and food pairings more classic than a juicy steak and a full-bodied Merlot. 

The tender, fatty texture of a steak is balanced by the tannins in the wine. For best results, choose a fatty cut of steak, such as a ribeye or porterhouse, and let it rest for a few minutes after cooking to allow the juices to settle. 

A glass of merlot will complement the richness of the steak perfectly.

Find Out More: Amazing side dishes to eat with Ham Steak

7. Mushrooms

Another great food pairing for merlot is mushrooms. The earthy and umami flavors of mushrooms pair well with the smooth and fruity flavors of merlot. 

You can enjoy a mushroom risotto or a mushroom ragout with a glass of merlot for a delicious and sophisticated meal.

8. Roasted chicken

Roasted chicken is a classic comfort food that pairs perfectly with merlot. The light and delicate flavors of roasted chicken are complemented by merlot’s fruity, velvety texture. 

Roasted chicken

You can add some herbs like rosemary and thyme to the roasted chicken to enhance the pairing.

9. Beef Stew

Hearty beef stew simmered with vegetables brings out the fruitiness of merlot and its subtle herbal notes. (Recipe)

10. Baked Salmon

A lightly grilled piece of salmon served with a creamy sauce has hints of smokiness that pair well with the full body of merlot.

Discover More: What to Serve with Tuscan Salmon

11. Stuffed Peppers

A robust blend of bell peppers stuffed with rice and ground beef complements a glass of merlot nicely, as its sweet flavors come through in each bite.

12. Meatloaf

Another classic comfort food, meatloaf cooked in homemade tomato sauce, offers flavors similar to those found in full-bodied red wines like merlot—richness matched by plenty of juicy goodness from top to bottom! (Recipe)

13. Roasted Vegetables

Roasted Vegetables

Crispy roasted vegetables such as carrots, onions, potatoes and squash make a great side dish for merlot because their earthy flavors contrast nicely against the wine’s bright acidity and delightful tannins.

14. Garlic Bread

Garlic bread goes amazingly well with any type of red wine, but especially so when paired with a glass or two of merlot due to its subtle sweetness and spice profile that stands out against the light creaminess found in garlic bread recipes.

15. Gnocchi with Cream Sauce

Soft pillows made from potato dough topped off with cream sauce are yet another great match for merlots thanks to their naturally sweet taste, which enhances Italian staples like gnocchi quite well!

16. Lasagna


Layers upon layers of pasta sheets filled with cheese, veggies and meat form the perfect backdrop for merlot’s rich berry undertones when paired together; plus, who doesn’t love lasagna?

Explore More: Best Salad To serve with Lasagna

17. Pasta Carbonara

Rich carbonara made from bacon strips, eggs and Parmesan cheese provides just enough umami flavor to stand up against merlots big, bold taste without becoming overly salty or overpowering its delicate nuances​

18. Risotto

Risotto’s creamy texture offsets merlot’s slightly acidic undertone while bringing out more fruity notes; try different variations like truffle risotto for an extra special experience!

19. Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Last but certainly not least is everyone’s favorite comfort food: grilled cheese sandwiches! 

Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

The cheesy goodness mixed together with melted butter creates a magical combination when combined alongside one glass (or two) of merlot – truly hard to beat!

Merlot and Food Pairing Guide

The first step in choosing the best foods to pair with merlot is to consider the characteristics of the wine. Merlot is a medium-bodied red wine with fruity flavors and smooth tannins, making it an ideal option for many different food pairings. 

To help identify the best dishes to complement a glass of merlot, you should consider the flavor profile of both the wine and the food.

Merlot and Food Pairing Guide

For example, if you’re enjoying a bottle of merlot from Bordeaux with its unique mix of berry and plum flavors, you might want to think about pairing it with something like grilled lamb or beef stew. 

This will help bring out some of those bolder fruit notes in your merlot while also providing an earthy, savory component to the dish.

If you’re trying a more lightly oaked merlot with subtle notes of cherry and chocolate, then think about pairing it with lighter fare such as chicken or fish cooked in butter or cream sauce. This will help accentuate those delicate fruit flavors while also providing a richer texture to the dish.

Finally, if you’re enjoying a bottle of aged merlot that has developed some earthier flavors like leather, tobacco and chocolate, try pairing it with things like grilled mushrooms or roasted root vegetables. 

The earthiness of these dishes can provide an interesting contrast to the bolder flavor profiles found in older wines.

In general, when it comes to food and wine pairing, you want to look for dishes that will accentuate the flavors in both the food and wine while also providing an interesting contrast. 

Merlot is a versatile red wine, so feel free to experiment with different food pairings until you find something that you love. Bon Appetit!

Wrap up

Merlot is a diversify wine that goes well with a range of flavors and textures. Whether you enjoy a classic steak or a rich mushroom risotto, merlot is the perfect complement. 

Experiment with different flavors and textures to find your favorite Merlot pairing. With a little bit of experimentation and the right pairings, you can create a wine and dining experience that is truly remarkable. 

First and foremost, merlot is known to pair well with red meat, particularly beef. This is because the wine’s tannins and acidity cut through the richness of the meat, creating a balanced and satisfying flavor profile. 


Some of the best cuts of beef to pair with merlot include ribeye, filet mignon, and sirloin steak.

In addition to beef, merlot also goes well with other meats such as lamb, pork, and game meat like venison and bison. The robust and earthy flavors of these meats complement the fruitiness of the merlot, creating a complex and satisfying taste experience.

If you prefer seafood, don’t fret – there are plenty of options for pairing merlot with fish and other seafood. Salmon, tuna, and shrimp are all excellent choices, as are scallops and mussels. 

The key is to look for seafood that has a firm texture and rich flavor, as this will hold up well against the bold flavors of the merlot.

If you’re a cheese lover, you’ll be pleased to know that merlot also pairs beautifully with a variety of cheeses. 

Soft and creamy cheeses like brie and camembert are a great choice, as are hard, salty cheeses like Parmesan and cheddar. Smoked cheeses like gouda and provolone also work well with merlot, as do blue cheeses like Roquefort and Gorgonzola.

Beyond these classic pairings, there are plenty of other foods that go well with merlot, including hearty stews and soups, spicy foods like chili and curry, and even chocolate and other desserts. 

So, go ahead and indulge in a glass of merlot with your favorite food pairings and savor the flavors. Cheers!

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