Sweetest Merlot: The Top 11 Wines For 2023

The sweetest Merlot offers a fun contrast to the dry wine style which is common in Napa Valley and other wine regions.

sweetest merlot

Merlot Wine: Do You Want It Dry or Sweet?

Merlot wine tends to be a dry wine, meaning it has minimal residual sugar, resulting in a less sweet taste. Dry Merlot wines are known for their medium to full body and often exhibit flavors of dark fruits, such as blackberry, plum, and cherry, with subtle hints of spices, chocolate, and tobacco. These wines typically have a smooth and velvety texture, making them highly appealing to wine enthusiasts who prefer a more restrained sweetness.

Typically, Merlot is a dry type of wine. There are also semi-sweet versions available, catering to different preferences and making it a versatile choice for a range of wine enthusiasts. Whether one enjoys the more restrained character of dry Merlots or the touch of sweetness found in semi-sweet Merlots, there is a Merlot wine suitable for every palate.

Concerned about additives in your Merlot? If so, check out this guide to organic Merlot wine.

1) Tenuta dell’Ornellaia “Le Serre Nuove” Bolgheri, Italy

A delightful sweet Merlot from Italy, featuring opulent black fruit flavors (e.g. blackberry), licorice, and cedar, with notes of vanilla.

2) Viña MontGras Reserva Merlot, Colchagua Valley, Chile

A beginner-friendly semi-sweet Merlot with a pleasing sweet-tart balance, showcasing fruit aromas of ripe plum and raspberry (i.e. no dark fruit here), complemented by a touch of vanilla.

3) Château Le Gay Pomerol, France

As one of the finest French sweet wines, Château Le Gay impresses with its lush flavors of ripe blackberry and plum, heightened by delightful hints of vanilla, creating an exceptional bottle of wine that will undoubtedly please any palate.

4) Château Figeac Saint-Émilion Grand Cru, France

Bordeaux’s Saint-Émilion Region has an excellent reputation thanks to producers like Château Figeac. Boasting a well-balanced residual sugar, this remarkable Bordeaux, celebrated by Wine Spectator, presents enticing notes of cherry and raspberry, making it an excellent wine that beautifully showcases the true essence of the grape variety.

5) Château Palmer Margaux, France

Renowned for its elegance, Château Palmer offers an impressive array of flavors, including black currant and subtle floral aromas, making it a remarkable French wine with a moderate alcohol content that is sure to captivate any wine enthusiast. Don’t expect this Margaux to be an affordable wine – it usually sells for hundreds of dollars per bottle.

6) Château Pétrus Pomerol, France

Celebrated by James Suckling, Château Pétrus is a legendary representation of French winemaking, boasting intense flavors of ripe plum and truffle, along with a captivating sweet oak finish, resulting in an exquisite and highly sought-after bottle of wine.

7) Duckhorn Vineyards, Napa Valley, USA

As one of the finest fruity wines from the USA, Duckhorn Vineyards‘ Merlot is praised by Wine & Spirits Magazine for its red cherry and mocha flavors, making it an excellent choice for those who appreciate sweet wines with a touch of warm spice.

7) Shafer Vineyards Relentless Napa Valley, USA

Blending Syrah and Merlot, Shafer Vineyards has created an outstanding bottle of wine, celebrated by Wine Advocate, with bold blackberry and plum flavors, accompanied by the sweetness of the fruit and a hint of sweet tobacco.

8) Pride Mountain Vineyards Merlot, Napa-Sonoma

Offering a harmonious balance of flavors, this storied producer is praised by Wine Spectator for its black cherry and dark chocolate notes, showcasing the excellence of fruity Napa Valley wines.

9) Bodega Norton Privada, Mendoza, Argentina

Celebrated by James Suckling, Bodega Norton Privada’s Merlot blend features an impressive fruit-forward profile with hints of mocha and spices, creating an outstanding representation of Argentinean sweet wines.

10) Viña MontGras Reserva Merlot, Colchagua Valley, Chile

Praised by Wine Enthusiast, Viña MontGras offers a delightful bottle of wine with a sweet-tart balance, showcasing the allure of Chilean fruity Merlot wines, complemented by a touch of vanilla. Compared to Bordeaux, a quality Chilean wine is a great everyday choice.

11) Tenuta dell’Ornellaia “Le Serre Nuove” Bolgheri, Italy

As one of the exceptional Italian sweet wines, Tenuta dell’Ornellaia‘s “Le Serre Nuove” impresses with its opulent flavors of blackberry, licorice, and cedar, elegantly intertwined with hints of vanilla, providing a memorable tasting experience worthy of French wines’ acclaim.

Merlot Dry Wines

These beautiful wines offer a range of flavors, alcohol levels and levels of tannin. Direct experience is the best approach to wine education. So consider sharing a dry Merlot and a sweet Merlot with friends and see which you like best. While you’re hosting a wine party, get ready to answer wine questions like does merlot go with steak?

Let’s start with Saint-Émilion wine.

Château Figeac Saint-Émilion Grand Cru, France

A classic Bordeaux Merlot that embodies the dry nature of the varietal, with notes of cherry, raspberry, and a touch of vanilla. These fantastic wines are aged in French oak barrels for more than a year. Enjoying these Bordeaux-Grown Grapes is wonderful but a Grand Cru is not a budget choice.

On the other hand, there are also semi-sweet versions of Merlot wines available for those who prefer a touch of sweetness. This kind of semi-sweet Merlot are sometimes labelled with the term late harvest, so keep an eye out for that phrase.

Comparing The Sweetest Merlot To Other Drinks

When you have a drink with friends, you might wonder how Merlot compares with other drinks. Put aside non-alcoholic drinks like soda pop and energy drinks. There are a few factors to use to compare the sweetness level in wine.


All wine grapes have natural sugars. The winemaking process, specific grape variety and climate are key factors that influence the sugar level in the glass.

The sugar content in wine is the primary factor that determines sweetness. For example, well known dessert wines like Portugal’s port wines have a residual sugar content of 30 grams of sugar per liter at the low end. That’s much higher than even the sweetest Merlot which has less than 10 grams of sugar per liter.

Tip: If bone-dry red wines are your ideal wine, then look for very low sugar content (also known as sugar concentration). Check out this guide to low

Fruity Flavors

Consider the following outstanding wine as an example: Duckhorn Napa Valley Merlot

This Napa Valley Merlot offers a lush and fruit-forward profile, with ripe red fruit flavors like raspberry and strawberry. The wine is aged in a combination of French and American oak barrels, adding layers of vanilla, caramel, and toasted oak nuances. It is medium-bodied and well-balanced, with a touch of sweetness that is beautifully offset by its refreshing acidity.


Merlot grapes, like most red wine grapes, have tannins. Tannin is a natural substance found in wine grapes, tea and other foods. High levels of tannins tend to produce a bitter taste. The tannin taste can be quite a surprise if your typical glass of wine is a white wine.


Balanced acidity has an important role to play in wine. You might come to a wine for its wonderful fruit notes. The best wines offer a rich taste of several elements including acidity. Without acidity, the semi-sweet taste in the sweetest Merlot can become overwhelming.

Final Thoughts

It’s always fun to try out different kinds of wine. If you’re at a restaurant, finding the sweetest Merlot may be tough. Why? The vast majority of wine drinkers prefer dry wine so it is most common. The most common sweet wines are dessert wines like port. If you’re excited to try sweet Merlot, try it at home.

Sweetest Merlot: The Top 11 Wines For 2023

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