Meritage [Mer-i-tij] not [Mer-i-tahj]

The Meritage Alliance states on their website, that a Meritage is the very best of a winemaker’s craft. A winemaker’s top blended wine crafted by blending traditional noble Boudreaux style grapes. Distinguishing the best blends from those more common blends of red table wine.

Meritage is currently considered one of the fastest growing wine categories in the industry. What started in California has quickly spread across the country. A winery must be licensed to label a wine as Meritage. A Meritage wine must contain a blend of at a minimum two of the traditional Bordeaux grape varieties.

The traditional red “noble” Bordeaux grape varieties are Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon , Malbec, and Petit Verdot plus the more rare varieties of St. Mecaire, Gros Verdot, and Carmenère. A Meritage wine showcases the traditional winemaker’s art of blending the best of a vintage.

One of my biggest wine pet peeves is the common incorrect pronunciation of the term Meritage. The correct pronunciation is one that rhymes with heritage. In fact, the term itself is a combination of merit and heritage. We often hear fellow winery visitors and wine lovers pronouncing Meritage incorrectly in a manner that rhymes with Garage. Drinking Mer-i-tahj in their garage! I’ve even heard a tasting room associate while pouring our wine tasting erroneously pronounce the wine they were serving! I try to bite my tongue, but most often I just can’t! I just can’t!

The Meritage Alliance explains that back in the nineteen eighties, an international contest was held to choose a suitable name for the best blends produced by their alliance of California vintners. Meritage was chosen from over six thousand entries. Wow!

Currently in our area, the Southeastern United States, four North Carolina wineries, three Georgia wineries, and fifty plus Virginia wineries are producing a Meritage. One of our current favorites is the Meritage produced by Burntshirt Vineyards in Hendersonville, North Carolina. This Meritage was in fact, the toast wine at our wedding. We also love the Meritage at Shadow Springs Vineyard in North Carolina’s Yadkin Valley AVA. However, we’ve many, many Meritage blends still to taste.

Learn more about Meritage wines at The Meritage Alliance website. Consider the merit and heritage of wine blending as you enjoy your next bottle of Meritage.

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