We were amazed to hear the same line over and over on our recent California wine trip:
"Despite what you may have heard from that movie (Sideways), Merlot can be pretty good!"
It's amazing that a movie released in 2004 is still giving wineries and consumers a complex about Merlot. Of course, Sideways was a pretty good movie with an inordinate influence on California wine drinkers. There's also been plenty of crappy Merlot on the market that would justifiably sway people against the varietal.
We're not typically huge Merlot fans, but occasionally we'll come across some that we believe even Miles would enjoy. Once in a blue moon that really good Merlot costs less than $20.
That was the case with a bottle of 2008 Benziger Sonoma County Merlot. We've talked about this terrific winery in the past when we reviewed their Signaterra Pinot Noir and in a post about how we're all connected in six degrees of wine.
We enjoyed the Merlot with a hearty beef stew and were surprised at how good this wine tasted with and without food. It was very fruit forward with bright red fruit tastes, a little spice, and supple tannins on the finish.
This wine typically sells for just $13.99, though finding it can be a little difficult. We picked up a bottle a few months back at one of our local wine shops, but they're now out. Total Wine and Specs both have it listed for sale on their websites and they can ship to most places.