First rule, aerate this wine. After running it through the vinturi, the wine opened up and smoothed out.
Second rule, pair it with the right food. I found out the hard way that if you pair it with a spicy food. I couldn't figure out why this wine, which I have tasted and liked before, was all of a sudden awful. So off to the internets I went. Come to find out, the capsaicin in peppers and other spicy foods can interact with the wine to create a bitter, more alcoholic taste. Go for milder spices, like black pepper, and prevent a bitter taste in your mouth. When I read that here, I realized that a spicy Rotel Chickpea chili was the WRONG food to have with this wine. So, on the next day, I made a sweet chorizo and shrimp tapas, and then mixed it with the chickpea leftovers to make sandwiches, and we tried the Merlot again. SCORE.
This Merlot is a full bodied deep cherry wine with oakiness and a kick. When I swirl and sniff, it does not have a pure fruity smell. It has an astringent undertone. I wonder if it needs some more time to mellow out. I think it would age well. I wonder what the `09 would taste like in `11? Maybe I'll buy another bottle and find out.
Leftover sandwiches with Chorizo, pork, bell peppers, greens, chickpeas onion and tomatoes.