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Why Merlot is Still a Big Deal

Filed Under: Wine

Although Merlot is a varietal that many people believe they should not like, a new study by Nielsen and commissioned by Blackstone Winery found that Merlot "has the single largest consumer base of any varietal wine in the U.S. and, of the major wine varietals, is the one most closely associated with high quality at an affordable price."

Many believe that Merlot took a big hit from Sideways, while Pinot Noir benefited. This is untrue. It is true that Pinot Noir sales increased by about 48% - and stayed up. Merlot sales actually increased by about 5% and stayed up.

Maybe the Merlot drinkers never got the word that they were not suppose to drink Merlot. Forty-five percent of participants in Nielsen's survey of Merlot drinkers never saw the movie, and 93% of those that saw the movie say it had no effect on their opinion of Merlot. Since Sideways, Merlot dollar sales and volume have grown steadily and the number of US households purchasing Merlot more than doubles those purchasing Pinot Noir. Of course, Pinot Noir sales have never been higher than 9% of total red wine sales.

More American households purchase Merlot than any other wine variety, red or white. The varietal is reportedly enjoyed for its taste, value and approachability, and also has the highest repeat purchase rate of any wine variety in the U.S.

A majority of 90% of respondents say "taste" is the most important factor in their wine-buying decisions, with "good value" ranking second. Not surprisingly, 80% of respondents consider Merlot "a good everyday food wine," while roughly 70% find Merlot to be "a good value" (rising to "great" when priced under $12 per bottle), "a good wine to drink at home," and "approachable and reliable."

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