What is Meritage? How do you say it?

Want to look like you know a thing or two? Next time you want to try a new world Bordeaux style wine, ask for a Meritage. But make sure you pronounce Meritage correctly when you’re at the store.

Meritage and Bordeaux

What is Meritage?

In North America, a Bordeaux style wine is called Meritage. Despite containing the same grapes as those you’d find in a Bordeaux, it can’t be called such — that would be an infringement on the French region, the designation of origin. I admit, I wouldn’t want anyone using my name either after hundreds of years building a prestigious reputation.

Like Bordeaux, you can find any combination of Bordeaux grape varietals in a Meritage, which are Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Carmenere, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot. I’ve yet to come across a white Meritage and apparently they’re rare, but the grapes are Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon or Muscadelle du Bordelais.

I really enjoy a good Bordeaux and Meritage. We were talking about how much we love the two over dinner the other day with the bf’s family. Then somebody pronounced Meritage wrong…

How do you think you’re supposed to say it?

Most people assume that because of the French association, it’s said with a French accent, mari-taj. Not so. Meritage was coined in the United States back in the late 1980s and is a combination of the words merit and heritage. When you combine the two, meritage rhymes with heritage. That’s how you pronounce it.

Next time you hear someone say mari-taj, you know they may not know as much as they led on (especially if they work at the store or are wine snobs). That’s OK. But if you want to set any wine snob straight, you can always direct them to this blog post!

Have a question? Leave a comment below or send me a tweet.

2 thoughts on “What is Meritage? How do you say it?

  1. Hey Vanny – sorry for radio silence, I’ve been reading, I promise, just not commenting. I’m mid stream in the French Wine Scholar program (you HAVE to take it, it’s great, totally worth the $). White meritage (damn you auto correct! Meritage, not heritage!) is delicious and you can actually find it fairly easily – it’s just that hardly any producers use the term on their labels. We had the Kettle Valley Sem-Sauv blend the other night – fantastic. The semillon rounds out the mid-palate and takes some of the “edge” off the herbaceous notes you’ll typically find in sauv blanc (even the warmer climate ones). The sem also gives the wines more age-ability. We did bordeaux last week in FWS and had a terrific white bordeaux from 2007(Chateaux Larrivet Haut Brion, $84.99 at Liberty) that (I think) wouldn’t have held up as well without the semillon (35% of the blend). Wines like that are why you need to take the class! And if you can find an aged semillon from the Hunter Valley, you’ll be so happy 🙂 Are you about to start the second part of the Advanced?

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