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The result was the birth of the Meritage


Association (more recently changed to the Meritage Alliance). The nonprofit organization sought to trademark the term in the United States and it was officially registered in 1993. Any producer using the name on their label is required to secure a license from the Alliance and the wine must meet their criteria. To understand the criteria, let’s look at the criteria of Bordeaux wines. To be labeled a Bordeaux wine, it must


be made from permitted varieties of grapes grown in the region. For red wine the permitted grapes are Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Carménère, and the lesser known St. Macaire and Gros Verdot. White wines follow the same viticulture requirements and include the Colombard, Mauzac, Merlot Blanc, Muscadelle du Bordelais, Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon, Ondenc, and Ugni Blanc grape varieties. To be labeled a Meritage, a red wine must


be a blend of two or more of the Bordeaux red varietal grapes. No single grape variety may represent more than 90% of the total wine. The same criteria are imposed for white wines; however, only the Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon or Muscadelle du Bordelais grapes may be used. The resulting wine is a true expression of


the winemaker’s craft. The best definition of Meritage can be found on the Alliance website (www.meritagealliance.com): Meritage combines “merit,” reflecting the quality of the grapes, with “heritage,” which recognizes the centuries-old tradition of blending, long considered to be the highest form of the winemaker’s art. Now that we understand what a Meritage


wine is and the history behind it we can better understand why the correct pronunciation is truly English. To properly pronounce “Meritage” think about combining the two key words that the wine represents – merit and heritage – take all of the word “merit” and combine it with the “tihj” sound of heritage. The result should be MEHR-ih-tihj. Go forth now with your knowledge and partake in some of the wine industry’s most exciting wines – the Meritage.


David is an accredited sommelier, trained CIA chef, and lawyer. This is an excerpt from his book Wine: A Guide to Wine Drinking. You can follow David in his new blog the-gentleman- farmer.blogspot.com. If you’d like to try a local example, Arbor Crest produces a Meritage blend. We recommend their 2009 Dionysus.


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