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Jan 23, 2014 12:33 PM

White Merlot or Grenache?

What is the difference? Which do you prefer? I can only find "blush" in searches.

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  1. In the southern part of Switzerland, Ticino, excellent white merlot is made--however, I have never seen it exported. It is not a blush wine. It has depth and is usually well-balanced with moderate alcohol.

    1. Grenache blanc is fairly common. There's a couple of good vineyards in the Santa Barbara area.
      The best I've had is from Tablas Creek in Paso Robles.

      1 Reply
      1. re: SteveTimko

        Be careful . . . Grenache blanc is NOT the same as "White Grenache."

        Grenache blanc is actually a grape variety. So, too, Grenache gris and Grenache noir. (Think Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, and Pinot Noir.) The Tablas Creek Grenache Blanc IS actually produced from the Grenache Blanc grape -- it is NOT a blush wine made from Grenache noir. See

      2. White Merlot, White Grenache, Cabernet Blanc, Pinot Noir Blanc, and of course, White Zinfandel (among many others) are indeed lumped together under the blanket term "blush wines."¹ These are red wine grapes (Merlot, Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel), but within the world of "wine-making grapes" (i.e.: Vitis vinifera), it doesn't matter what color the skin of the grape is, the juice itself is colorless.² All the pigmentation is in the skins.

        Generally speaking . . .

        For a white wine, you crush the grapes, press the must (juice, pulp, skin, and seeds) to separate at the clear juice from the solids, and ferment only the juice.

        For a red, since all the pigment is found in the skins, you have to crush the grapes, ferment the must so that the juice is in contact with the skins (and so picks up the color), and then press to separate the solids from the now-fermented juice (wine).

        So, white = crush, press, ferment; red = crush, ferment, press.

        But what happens if you take a red wine grape, like Merlot, Grenache, or Zinfandel, and ferment it as if it were a white wine grape? The only color picked up by the clear juice is from those skin cells actually ruptured during the pressing -- and if the juice is taken away quickly enough, only a very minimal amount of pigment will get into the otherwise clear juice. The result is a "blush wine" -- a white wine that is made from a red wine grape.

        These are NOT the same as a rosé.

        So the difference between a White Merlot or a White Grenache is that one is made from Merlot and the other from Grenache. Thus, it is merely a matter of taste -- Merlot and Grenache taste differently from one another; that is certainly true when they are produced as a red wine, and it carries over when they are made as blush wines as well.

        ¹ As in, "How do you embarrass a grape? By making it blush."

        ² This is true for approximately 98 percent of all V. vinifera grapes. A relative handful of vinifera grapes with dark skins *do* have tinted juice -- thus, these are called "teinturier" grapes. Alicante Bouchet is the best known.

        1. Great posts. Think I am going to try the White Merlot.

          3 Replies
          1. re: 3sheets

            Whose? Be careful if it's American . . .

            1. re: zin1953

              agreed. Pink wines from America tend to be alcoholic Koolaid for the most part.

              There are some drinkable exceptions, but those of us who like dry, French-style rosés are short on options.

              1. re: sunshine842

                That, AND Merlot tends to be overcropped in California, and with the best quality grapes going for red wines, a California White Merlot is more likely to be disappointing than a Calif. White Grenache . . .

                Then again, *if* -- and I would stress we don't know whether or not this is true -- IF the OP is a big fan of (e.g.) Sutter Home White Zinfandel, then a White Merlot might be an improvement.