If Merlot isn’t the most famous red, it is the most international. Legendary Merlots command top dollar but even the cheapest are reliably approachable and plummy. Not always as complex as its equally famous cousin Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot’s trump is ripening early - making drinkable wines in any climate. Hot climates like America allow hedonistically (over)ripe, jammy Merlots with deep colour and soft tannins, while moderate to cool climates like New Zealand produce Merlots with plush fruit but more helpful acid freshness. In its homeland of Bordeaux, Merlot often blends plumpness into more tannic Cabernet, though in Bordeaux’s legendary left bank wines, where Merlot dominates, it is picked not-too-late to preserve the acid and tannin structure for aging.