Food Review: Member's Mark Orange Chicken
Cambridge Liquor has a nice selection of wines, whiskeys and more

The Bachelor on the Cheap Guide to making wine selection and food pairing easier - Merlot

Wine FunBy Mike Thayer

This is the first of an ongoing series of wines and food pairings

Wine, it's the perfect beverage for a romantic dinner, a go-to for a casual get-together/party and a holiday meal is complimented by it.  Whether it's a meal for two, a small party for friends or a gathering of family, having the right wine elevates the occasion. 

And while most people follow the basic rule of thumb - red wine for beef and white wine for chicken - selecting the right wine can still be challenging.  What KIND of red for that roast beef?  Or, What KIND of white for that lemon chicken dish?  Does dessert call for a different wine?

The choices are many and can be intimidating, with the reds there's Merlot; Cabernet Sauvignon; Zinfandel; Syrah/Shiraz; Malbec; Pinot Noir; Nebbiolo; Sangiovese; Grenache and all kinds of red blends to choose from.

With the whites there's Chardonnay; Sauvignon Blanc; Moscato; Pinot Grigio; Riesling; Gewurztraminer, Viognier, Torrontes, Albarino and yes, white wine has it's share of blends as well.

So you walk into the liquor store in need of a bottle of wine for a dinner date or special occasion... 

Sure, you can rely on the store attendant to help you with a selection but that can be hit or miss.  A good attendant will ask you if you prefer wines on the sweeter or dryer side and what you might be pairing it with.  But keep in mind the attendant's palate is different than yours, their sweet and dry preferences are different than yours and they might try to push a particular brand on you that's in the store's best interest, not yours.  So why not walk in the store knowing what you need?  That's what this guide is for, to help you with food pairings, what is sweet, what is dry and getting a good wine for under $15 a bottle.  That's the Bachelor on the Cheap wallet friendly thing to do, get something nice, without paying too much for it.

So let's start off with the reds, with today's feature:  Merlot

This is one of the more popular reds and if you're looking for a wine to go with a good steak, Merlot might be for you.  A Merlot is a hearty wine that pairs well with grilled steaks, roast beef, braised lamb and tomato based pastas. If eating lighter fare, a Merlot goes well with bold flavored cheeses, such as a good sharp cheddar, gouda, or a blue cheese such as Gorgonzola.  For dessert lovers, a nice Merlot pairs well with chocolate.  And for those that like a wine on the dryer side, it's a good wine to drink by itself as well. A traditional Merlot is a medium bodied, full flavored red wine the carries fruity notes such as strawberries, raspberries, plum and/or dark cherry.  Serve Merlot slightly chilled at 60 - 65 degrees (refrigerate for about 30 minutes before serving).  If you don't finish the bottle, cork it and refrigerate, it's good for up to 4 days.  Just be sure to pull the bottle and let it come up in temp (a refrigerator chills to about 41 degrees) a bit before serving to appreciate the full flavor profile.  If you haven't finished the bottle by the four day mark, cook with it.

Bogle MerlotBachelor on the Cheap Recomendation:  Bogle Merlot - $9.99.  A California wine with notes of plum and dark cherry.

Next Up in the series:  Cabernet Sauvignon

$pend Wisely My Friends...

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