Pinot Noir vs Merlot: Differences Explained

Updated: Oct 15, 2020

Wooden sign that says Pinot Noir with the Merlot written below using wine corks.

What are the differences between Merlot and Pinot Noir anyway? These two red wines are super popular. So, which wine is perfect for your next dinner party, or ordering at a restaurant, or just plain sipping at home (which is what most of us are doing these days).

Time to compare their taste profiles and their perfect food pairing partners. Then learn about a few brands you can check out.

Pinot Noir Taste Profile

This is a black, thin-skinned grape that originated in Burgundy, France. It likes cool climates like Burgundy, Washington, Oregon, Northern California, and New Zealand’s South Island.

Pinot Noir is a light red wine that exhibits red fruit notes of raspberry, strawberry, and red cherry. You’ll also find notes of vanilla and clove from maturing in oak barrels.

This light-bodied, dry red wine has high acidity, medium tannin levels, and medium to high levels of alcohol.

Go deeper with this post: Pinot Noir Taste Profile

Merlot Taste Profile

Merlot is another black-skinned grape. Although this one originates out of Bordeaux, France. It is typically used in the famous Bordeaux blend wines. However, Merlot is also produced as a single varietal wine in Napa Valley, California, and Columbia Valley, Washington.

This smooth red wine typically has notes of black fruit like black cherry and plum along with those vanilla and toast notes from maturing in oak barrels.

Think – medium, medium, medium for Merlot! It is a medium-bodied, dry red wine with medium acidity, medium tannins, and medium to high levels of alcohol.

Go deeper with this post: Merlot Taste Profile

The Difference between Merlot and Pinot Noir