Difference between Merlot and Shiraz

By: | Updated: Nov-19, 2017
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Except for wine connoisseurs, many people do not really care what type of wine they are drinking. When we’re offered a glass of red wine, for instance, we know that it is a relaxing alcoholic drink made from grapes, but do not really know if it’s Merlot or Shiraz. This article will discuss the difference between two of the most confused types of red wine: Shiraz and Merlot. The next time you attend an event, impress the host by showing off some wine knowledge.

Summary Table

Merlot Shiraz
Plummy, soft flavor Intense flavor; can range from fruity to spicy
Can be paired with any food Normally paired with meat
Contains 13.5% to 14.5% alcohol Contains 10% to 14% alcohol
Has a lower tannin content Has a higher tannin content
Light red Dark red; almost opaque


a glass of wine

Merlot is a type of wine made from Merlot grapes, which are large, dark blue grapes with a thin skin. It is a fairly common type of wine in the US, especially in California, but it is also produced in France, Spain, Portugal, Mexico, Italy, Chile, and Australia, among others. It was originally from Bordeaux.

The term “Merlot” means “little black bird” in French. This refers to the color of the grapes. Merlot grapes are soft and fleshy and they ripen early. Originally, the grapes were used as blending grapes for Cabernet Sauvignon because of their softness. However, wine experts in California started to produce wine made purely of Merlot grapes in the middle of the nineteenth century. The result is a light wine with a pleasing taste.

Merlot wine offers a plummy and elegant flavor. Its soft taste makes it easy to drink and a perfect pair for any food. It may contain 13.5% to 14.5% alcohol, depending on where the grapes are grown. It also has lower tannin levels.

Shiraz is a type of wine made from dark-skinned grapes. It was originally from France, where it was called “Syrah.” It was later brought to Australia, where it was given its new name, “Shiraz.”

Shiraz wine is a very dark liquid. In fact, it is almost opaque. Like its color, its taste is heavy in the mouth and full-bodied. In general, it is a mix of earthy flavors, but it is said that the Australian version is a noticeably sweeter. The French version is more on the spicy side.

Shiraz has an alcohol level of 10% to 14% and has a high tannin level which causes its dry taste. It is best paired with meat, but goes well with pretty much anything.

Merlot vs Shiraz

What, then, is the difference between Merlot and Shiraz?

The greatest difference between the two is their taste. Merlot has a soft flavor so it goes well with anything. On the other hand, Shiraz has a powerful taste, which is normally a mix of spicy and berry flavors, depending on where it is produced. It is normally paired with meat.

Also, Merlot has an alcohol content of 13.5% to 14.5% while Shiraz has an alcohol content of 10% to 14%. Merlot has a lower tannin content than Shiraz. Because of this, Shiraz has more of a drying effect in the mouth than Merlot. In terms of appearance, Merlot is light while Shiraz is extremely dark.

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