The Weekly Walla Walla Wine Word for Dummies: Meritage
Merit + Heritage = Meritage. The term was originally created by a group of California
wineries in 1988 to satisfy labeling requirements since they could not name Bordeaux-style wines a varietal unless it was 75% or more of the grape variety. And of course, most definitely the name 'Bordeaux' was out.
Now let me say that some of you like to "Frenchify" this word up a bit in your pronunciation. Too many times, I hear the term, 'Meritage' with the last syllable, "tage" sounding like that in the word, "taj," as in Taj Mahal.
Nope. Don't do it, or I will roll my eyes at you. Check for yourself on the Meritage website. Meritage rhymes with "heritage." Like, duh.
For red wines to be a Meritage they must be the following and with no grape dominating more than 90% of the blend: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petite Verdot, Malbec, and Carmenère.
For white wines to be a Meritage they must be the following, and with no grape dominating more than 90% of the blend: Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon or Muscadelle du Bordelais.
Also, the above red or white blends will not qualify as a Meritage if the blends includes any other grape variety. Keep the pinot noir or the chardonnay away. It's also mportant to know that to use the word 'Meritage'on a label, you must be a member of the Meritage Society. Meaning, you will pay the dues and follow their trademark regulations.