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In Australia, Merlot is the third most important red wine variety, after Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon.
The Merlot grape has a thinnish skin, so it is not as hardy as Cabernet Sauvignon, and it ripens early in the season. The grape is ideally suited to cool climate areas such as Tasmania.
Merlot is popular because it is fruitier than Cabernet Sauvignon. Nevertheless, Merlot displays similar aromas and flavours as Cabernet Sauvignon. Although enjoyable as a varietal wine, Merlot is often blended with Cabernet Sauvignon, imparting structure, depth of flavour, and the ability to age well.
Like Cabernet, Merlot is an excellent accompaniment to beef and lamb dishes.