Thursday, September 3, 2015

Meritage: I Thought You Knew

A couple of weeks ago on "Off The Vine with Benita and Terricinia", we were having a conversation all the while tasting some really nice wines from Hayes Valley Vineyards.  Recently, I went back and (bravely) listened to the show.  First let me apologize for the shenanigans and silliness.  We've warned you that if you want to learn anything from the show, you should tune in early because once we start, it goes down from there.  But on the more serious side, I heard myself mention that I was drinking a Meritage.  I said it with confidence and a conviction that everyone listening knew what I was talking about.  I said it with an unintentional arrogance.  So please forgive me for being a snob that one time.

So what is Meritage?  Meritage is a wine that is made of two or more of specific noble grapes of Bordeaux.  It can be either red or white. In making a Meritage, no grapes can comprise more than 90% of the blend.  If these specific qualities are not met, you got yourself some other blend but not a Meritage.  The name itself (rhymes with heritage) is made up of the word "merit" which reflects the quality of the grapes and "heritage" which represents tradition.  A Meritage does not have to be produced in France.  They are made all over the world. The one that I was drinking is from Central Coast (California).

There are a lot of wines and wine terms that are "givens" for what is actually in the bottle.  For instance, Pouilly- Fuisse is Chardonnay, Vouvray is Chenin Blanc, etc.  We know that because we've learned that.  We've learned that there are specific regions that produce wines from very specific grapes.  In most instances, the wines are named after the regions and not the grape.  I don't know about you, but I am starting to see more winemakers "dumb down" the labels to tell us exactly what's in the bottle.  For that, I am grateful.  I don't want every time that I drink wine to turn into a test of my memory of geography.  I'm exhausted just thinking about it!

Want to win a pair of tickets to a wine class?  Email me at with the "noble" grapes that can be used to make a red Meritage.  The contest ends on September 18, 2015.  We will enter the correct responses in a drawing for two tickets to our "How To Taste Wine Like a Pro" class that takes place on October 1, 2015.

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