Friday, October 8, 2021

Won't you please #MerlotMe?

October is #MerlotMe month and I have been fortunate enough to be allowed to participate in this fun event for the past several years.  Merlot is a French wine grape originally from Bordeaux and one of the blending grapes used for that iconic wine.  

3 bottles of Merlot

This year, as a member of our Wine Pairing Weekend group, I was provided with 3 wines that I poured tasted and paired.  I will be sharing my thoughts about these wines with you today.  I have received no monetary compensation and all writings  and opinions are strictly my own.  

Merlot was later moved to Medoc and blended with Cabernet Sauvignon for the wine from that area however these vines were nearly decimated by blight, weather and disease and production all but ceased by 1956.  The new vines planted were plagued with disease and in 1970 the French Government banned any new Merlot crops. 

dinner plate with wine

This caused Merlot crops in other parts of the world to surge in popularity and when the French Government, once again, allowed merlot vines to be planted in 1975 the wine was in it's hey day.  Then, as often happens when something is so popular and demand so intense, quality waned and disappointment followed.

lasagna with wine

Winemakers, realizing their error began taking steps to rectify the situation and by the 1990's Merlot was rising again in popularity.  In California, area winemakers decided to dedicate the month of October to Merlot and created #MerlotMe month to raise awareness of this delicious, food friendly varietal.

dinner plate with wine

I am very happy to be able to support their efforts.  Merlot is one of my very favorite varietals because it pairs so well with such a variety of foods.  

Merlot wine

The first bottle I opened was from Ironstone Vineyards in Murphys, California located in the Sierra Nevada foothills.  Murphys was a mining town and Ironstone vineyard has an outdoor mining museum and fabulous gardens that you can visit while enjoying their wines that are stored in caverns that were created from the mines of old.

I was enthralled with the virtual visit of the estate and this winery is now on my bucket list.  The Ironstone Merlot that I was sent is very affordable at less than $15 per bottle.  It is smooth, soft and fruit forward.  I was making BBQ chicken wraps and opened this bottle to pair with it.  As it turned out, we also ended up with pizza on our plates.  You can read more about that and get the recipe in this post.

The wine was perfect with this casual meal and also very drinkable after the meal while I relaxed with a novel.

Merlot Wine

The next bottle that we enjoyed was from Markham Vineyards in Napa Valley.  Markham is one of Napa Valleys oldest wineries.  They make wines that are not only delicious but sustainable. 

Here is their Mission Statement as written on their website.
"We believe in the power of community, the sanctity of the soil, the inspiration of collaboration and the notion that all voices deserve to be heard. We stay committed to doing the right thing in service to our land, our people and our customers."

It is a company that I'm proud to support and the wine was totally amazing.  The Altruist that I was provided is a red blend of predominantly Merlot that is aged for 15 months in oak barrels.  It is priced at around $30 a bottle with each bottle bought providing a donation to the Gary Sinise Foundation to support our unsung heroes.

I paired this wine with an absolutely rich and decadent Lasagna Bolognese that paired perfectly with this strong, Bordeaux style blend.  

Merlot Wine

The final wine I am sharing today was paired with a dish that I made specifically for this post.  I will be providing the recipe for this scrumptious Lemon Charred Filet Mignon over Vegetable Laden Spaetzle.

dinner plate with Merlot

Rombauer Vineyards was established in Napa Valley by Keorner and Joan Rambauer in 1972 and is still family owned with involvement of the second and third generation.  

This wine is also a Bordeaux style blend consisting of 83% Merlot, 13% Cabernet Sauvignon and 4 % Petite Verdot.  It is a bit more expensive at nearly $50 a bottle but it was my husband's favorite of the lot.  It is deep and complex, it feels luxurious when you sip it and it was a very nice pairing with the beef.  I see on their website for this bottle that they suggest pairing it with a Seafood Gumbo.  That sounds like it would be an amazing pairing and makes me want to order up another bottle so I can try it.

The Wine Pairing Weekend group are gathering tomorrow, Saturday, October 9th, to talk more about Merlot wines during twitter chat at 11 AM ET.  You are welcome to join in and learn more and share your thoughts.  You will find us by following #WinePW and #Merlotme.  Hope to see you there. 

October is still newly upon us so you have a lot of time left to join in the #MerlotMe celebration and learn what all the fuss is about.  I will be sharing two more #MerlotMe posts this month as an ambassador for L'Ecole wines.  Stay tuned for those and in the meantime enjoy this meal with the Merlot of your choosing.  Cheers!!!

Entrees, Beef, Pasta,
Entrees, Beef
Yield: 4 servings
Author: Wendy Klik
Lemon Charred Beef with Vegetable Spaetzle

Lemon Charred Beef with Vegetable Spaetzle

Tender Filet Mignon marinated in a sweet and sour lemon sauce before being cooked to perfection and served over spaetzle studded with vegetables.


  • 4 (6 oz) filet mignon 
  • juice and 1 t. zest of small lemon
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 3 T. olive oil, divided
  • 1 T. paprika
  • 1 c. beef broth
  • 1/4 c. sour cream
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 1 red onion, cut into thick slices
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 yellow bell pepper
  • 4 T. Butter, divided
  • 1 pkg. Spaetzle, cooked per package directions
  • 1/2 t. dried thyme
  • 1/2 t. rubbed sage


  1. Place the lemon juice, zest, brown sugar, 2 Tablespoons of the olive oil and a few grinds of black pepper into a blender and process until smooth. Pour into a pie plate, reserving 2 Tablespoons, and add the steaks, turning to coat all over. Cover and let rest in the marinade for one hour.
  2. Toast the paprika in a small skillet over medium heat, shaking and stirring until a deep brick color. Remove from heat and set aside.
  3. Place the broth into a saucepan along with the minced onion and bring to a boil. Cook until reduced to 2/3 cup. Stir in the sour cream and paprika, reduce heat and simmer until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. Place the red onion slices onto a broiling pan and brush them on both sides with the reserved marinade. Place the peppers onto the broiling pan with the onions and place under the broiler, turning occasionally for about 15 minutes, until charred all over.
  5. Place the peppers into a bowl and cover the bowl with plastic wrap.  Set aside for 15 minutes.  Roughy chop the onion and set aside.  
  6. Peel and core the peppers, removing seeds and cut into slices.  
  7. Drain the filets and season with salt and pepper.  Heat 2 Tablespoons of the butter and the remaining 1 Tablespoon of olive oil in a cast iron skillet over medium high heat.  When hot place the steaks into the skillet and cook for about 7 minutes, until nicely browned.  Flip the steaks and place the skillet into a preheated 450* oven for about 5 minutes or until desired temperature is met. Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes. 
  8. Meanwhile, rewarm the sauce.  Melt the remaining butter in a large skillet, add the cooked spaetzle and fry over high heat until crisp and golden brown.  Stir in the red onion and peppers and cook until warmed through.  
  9. Divide the spaetzle between 4 plates, mounding onto the middle of each.  Place a steak on top  and spoon 1/4 of the sauce onto each.


Adapted from a recipe found in Food and Wine.

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  1. What a line-up! I saw 'spaetzle' in your recipe title and thought you were going to show me how to make it! ;)

  2. All these wines sound delicious! Now I'm craving spaetzle!

  3. I love the lemon and beef combination-not something I would ever have thought about but I'm thinking about it now!

    1. It was surprisingly tasty. It must be a German flavor combination.

  4. Really enjoyed both the Ironstone and Rombauer wines. Sumptuous and perfect for this time of year.

  5. I too had the Markham and can imagine your Bolognese lasagna pairing perfectly! Happy #MerlotMe!

  6. I didn't know any of the 20th century history you shared about Merlot in BDX -- thanks for adding to my knowledge. All of these pairings sound great, but particularly craving lasagna and beef with spaetzle now. Yum!

  7. Nice selection o f wines! I've tasted different Rombauer but never their merlot! Cheers!

  8. Seem like the #MerlotMe event gets bigger and bigger every year! That's a great line-up of wine you had! Cheers Wendy!


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