Wine lovers don’t need a special reason to enjoy a glass of their favourite tipple, but the 7th of November does offer an occasion to open a bottle of Groot Constantia’s award winning Merlot as it is International Merlot Day – a day to celebrate this amazing grape.

But before you open your bottle of Merlot, lets uncork a few Merlot facts:

Interesting facts about Merlot grape:

  • Did you know that the word ‘Merlot’ comes from ‘young blackbird’ in French? It is believed that French winemakers either gave Merlot its name because of the beautiful blue-black colour of the Merlot grape or because the blackbird likes grapes.
  • Merlot wine is popular worldwide because of its capacity to please all palates.
  • Despite its lack of tannins, Merlot ages excellently.
  • Blended Merlot, when aged, usually softens the tannic boldness of grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon, mellowing out the wine.
  • Some experts believe Merlot grape is cousin of both Carmenere and Cabernet Sauvignon.
  • Merlot is the most popular wine in South Africa.

Interesting to note is that because of its low acidity and high sugar content, Merlot is one of the best wines to be paired with food. Good news for South Africans as we head into summer is that Merlot is perfect for the braai as it pairs well with grilled chicken, steak, pork, and lamb. Accompany this with grilled mushrooms, based in garlic butter and topped with a deliciously rich blue cheese or gorgonzola sauce. For non-meat eaters a pasta dish with a tomato-based sauce is fabulous with a glass or two of Merlot.

For dessert anything with berries and fruit – a pavlova perhaps, or blueberry cheesecake – goes beautifully with Merlot.

An ideal International Merlot Day celebration: A visit to Groot Constantia, glass of Merlot in hand whilst you savour the beautiful centuries old surroundings and world class facilities. Be sure to visit the original Manor House museum and original Cloete Cellar museum while you are there,  grab a delicious meal at one of the two top-notch restaurants on the estate, treat yourself to a chocolate and wine pairing and do the self-guided Visitors Route Experience, accompanied by a free audio tour.

For those who can’t make it to the estate itself, Groot Constantia wines are widely available in retail stores nationwide.

Cheers.  Happy International Merlot Day!

For more information visit or connect with Groot Constantia via social media on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @GrootConstantia.