Merlot vs Shiraz: Main Differences | Taste, Alcohol, Regions & Food Pairings

Produced using dark grapes, both Merlot and Shiraz are kinds of red wine. Both of them originate from Australia but have very distinct flavors, characteristics and features.

Below are some notable differences between these two vibrant red wines, Merlot & Shiraz.




Body Type

Medium Bodied flavorful wine, produced by red wine grape

Medium Bodied flavorful wine, produced by red wine grape

Taste Profile

Fruity, Feminine, Tannins, Velvety, Berry Plum, Current

More intense, dense and hearty

Growing Regions

Bordeaux region of France, Australia

Bordeaux region of France, Australia

Alcohol Content

13.5 to 14.5 percent

10 to 14 percent



Robust flavors, less sweet

Robust flavors, less sweet

Low Tannin content, less dry

Higher Tannin compared to Merlot, much drier


Light Red Wine

Dark Red Wine

Merlot vs Shiraz : Differences Explored

1. Grape Used

Merlot originates from a grape that is soft and fleshy and ripes early. There is only one variety, so the wine is called Varietal and named after the grape with a capital letter.

Shiraz grape is widely used to blend with other varieties when they are ripe.

In 2004, Merlot was the most popularly grown grape in the world whereas Shiraz stood at the 7th place on the ranking board.

2. Flavors

While Merlot is medium bodied, flavorful, milder wine indicating that the fruit used is for the beginner’s palate.

 Merlot has notes of-

  • Berry
  • Plum
  • Current

making the texture of the wine velvety, delicate and feminine.

Shiraz on the other hand is a full-bodied wine, very powerful and intense in taste. It has earthy qualities and is a dense, masculine, hearty and more tannic.

Shiraz has notes of-

  • Pepper
  • Truffle
  • Leather

3. Food Pairings

Merlot is one of the most versatile wines and can be paired with any type of food. From main course, appetizers to desserts, it goes well with almost everything, It has high acidity levels and is grown in the cooler regions of Washington State and Northeastern Italy.

Merlot goes well with-

  • Salmon
  • Mushroom
  • Chard or Radicchio
  • Prawns or Scallops
  • Bacon or Prosciutto

However, one thing to keep in mind is that Merlot does not go well with Blue Cheeses or strong flavors which overwhelms the fruity flavors. The capsaicin’s of spicy foods accentuate the level of alcohol in Merlot and make it taste more tannic and bitter.

Shiraz is usually paired with-

  • Red meats
  • Steaks
  • Wild Game
  • Thick Stews

4. Growing Regions

Merlot is largely produced in the Bordeaux Region of France but also grown in Italy, Romania, California, Washington, Chile & Australia.

Shiraz excels in climates of California, Australia and Rhone Valley of France.

The following video explains the difference between various red wines.

Best Selling Brands

Here are some best-selling Merlot wines in the market-

  • Tisdale
  • Copper Ridge
  • Salmon Creek
  • Crane Lake
  • Robert Mondavi Woodbridge
  • Kendall-Jackson Vintners Reserve
  • Columbia Crest Grand Estates

Now, lets look at some of the best Shiraz wines-

  • Two Vines Shiraz
  • Snoqualmie
  • Columbia Crest Grand Estates


If you are a beginner in the wine world, you should definitely go for Merlot because of its wide range of flavors and versatility. It is not only soft, velvety and fruity and also has low level tannins and alcohol.

Shiraz on the other hand is perfect for veteran wine drinkers. It is high in tannin and moderately alcoholic. It is also popular for its health benefits as it is full of healthy antioxidants.

If you are a fan of red wines, check the other popular red wines.

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