Merlot is a red wine variety with strong historic ties to Bordeaux and the southwest of France. It is the predominant variety in most wines from Saint-Emilion and Pomerol, the area in which the variety originated.
The variety is now widely planted in wine regions across the world and, in terms of the volumes of wine produced internationally, it is rivaled only by its Bordeaux companion, Cabernet Sauvignon.
In France, Merlot is the most widely planted red wine variety of all, and it is also extremely popular in northern Italy and the warmer areas of southern Switzerland.
The popularity of Merlot in the United States resulted in a significant increase in planting in the late 1980s and early 1990s, particularly in California and Washington on the countrys west coast. However, while Merlot-based wines were the height of fashion then, popularity has since dropped significantly in favor of Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel and Pinot Noir.