Merlot: Marvelous & Magical

With the temperatures dropping and the fireplace becoming the center of family get-togethers again, December is the perfect time to honor marvelous Merlot, which is planted worldwide and thrives in various climates.

The ultimate cozy fireplace wine

The ultimate cozy fireplace wine

A Single Variety Of Note

Merlot has proved in the last few decades that it deserves to be bottled as a single variety and is worth more than just a component in popular Bordeaux blends. It is the second most popular red wine in the United States after Cabernet Sauvignon and the versatility in winemaking styles and sense of place showcased in different terroirs makes this all-rounder a firm favorite. This wine can easily be enjoyed with red and white meats, from burgers to hearty meat dishes to roasted duck or mushroom risotto.

Merlot can be enjoyed with a spectacularly wide variety of meals

A wine that can be enjoyed with a spectacularly wide variety of meals

Merlot Origins

It originally comes from Bordeaux in France and thus a key component in Bordeaux blends with Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, says Dawie Botha, winemaker at Anthonij Rupert Wines and chairperson of the South African Merlot Forum. “Merlot can be made in different styles and varies from wine region to wine region, from full and concentrated to a soft fruit driven wine.

South Africa shines with some of the world's best Merlot wines

South Africa shines with some of the world’s best Merlot wines

South African Merlot

“Merlot in South Africa is characterized as a wine with elegant red fruit flavors such as blackberry, blueberry, red cherry, and strawberry and a juicy, satiny mouthfeel with refined tannins. Depending on the type of wood used in aging, it can also include some wood flavors such as mild black pepper and roasted or smoked flavors.

A wine that is always in style

A wine that is always in style

In South Africa, Merlot has grown from 81 hectares in 1982 to 5338 hectares in 2022, comprising nearly 6% of total vineyard plantings in the country. The South African Merlot Forum held its first Hallo Merlot Top 10 competition this year and the Delaire Graff Banghoek Reserve and Glen Carlou Collection Merlot, featured among the country’s top Merlots.

The Merlot vineyards at Eva Mira Estate

The vineyards at Uva Mira Estate

There is a wide list of premium South African Merlot wines available to order from wineries like:

You can shop more Merlot wines here and find the perfect wine gifts for the festive season here.

Lanzerac Merlot

Lanzerac Merlot

Delaire-Graff Bangkok Reserve Merlot & Thelema Merlot

Delaire-Graff Bangkok Reserve Merlot & Thelema Merlot

Macadamia & Chocolate Brownie

Try this decadent Macadamia & Chocolate Brownie recipe from Lanzerac Wine Estate’s Executive Head Chef Stephen Fraser with your favorite Merlot.


Macadamia & chocolate brownie

12 portions


250g refrigerated butter

200g 65% dark chocolate

80g cocoa powder (good quality)

65g cake flour

4 eggs

100g roasted chopped macadamia

1tsp vanilla paste or extract

30g extra chopped dark chocolate pieces


Making the brownie batter

Pre-heat your oven @ 170°C/338°F. Line a deep baking tray/ dish (around 35cm by 25cm/ 13.7in by 9.8in) with baking paper. Dice up the cold butter and chop up the dark chocolate into small pieces, add both to a mixing bowl then melt over a double boiler. stirring consistently until all the chocolate has melted.

Remove from the heat and add in the vanilla pate, sieve in the flour followed by the cocoa. Mix this together and then add the eggs one at a time while mixing through. Fold in the chopped macadamia nuts as well as the extra pieces of dark chocolate.

Pour the thick batter into your lined baking tray, spread out evenly and place in the oven. This will bake for around 30mins, but I like mine a little gooier, so I take it out after around 27-28mins.

Once baked

Leave this to rest for 20mins before portioning and removing from the tray.

Serve this with marinated berries and a big scoop of vanilla bean ice cream.

You had me at Merlot

You had me at Merlot

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BY Maryke Roberts | December 8, 2022

Maryke is an award-winning, Cape Winelands based journalist who has been writing about local and international wine and travel for over three decades. When she's home, her days are almost exclusively concluded with a walk on the beach and a glass of South African fine wine or spirits.

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