This week we are answering questions sent in by some of you. This one comes to us from Jenny in Pahrump, NV. Jenny asks:

What are Meritage wines?

The Meritage Association is a group of American wine producers who were unhappy with the rule in American wine labeling that required all wines be composed of at least 75% of the varietal listed on the label. Though the rule is helpful in providing a guarantee of a bottle's contents, many winemakers saw a greater advantage in blending different varietals together.

 

Lacking a prestigious name by which to label these blends, the producers coined the term "Meritage" to designate wines that are composed of Bordeaux-style blends. Thus a red meritage wine must have at least two of the classic Bordeaux grapes in it (Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec and Petit Verdot) and a white meritage is made of Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and, technically, Muscadelle (rarely used).

 

The term Meritage (pronounced MER-i-tage, not mer-i-tage) was the result of a six month search in the early 1980's for a term to replace those then in use: Proprietary Red, Red Table Wine or Bordeaux-Style Blend.

Whether or not it's pronounced correctly, or if it will be a footnote in wine history 20 years from now, the grand Meritage experiment has actually served to improve American wines. The rule stipulates that a Meritage wine be one of the two most expensive wines from the participating winery. In many cases, this in effect elevated what might have been an interesting blending experiment to winery flagship.

Great question Jenny, hope the answer helps. Remember, if you’re looking for an answer to a question about wine send us an email or leave a comment below. And if you’re looking for a personalized wine glass or custom wine glass make sure you check out what we have to offer on the rest of the site.