Merlot. Young blackbird, in French. That “effing” wine to Miles from the film Sideways. The classic Right Bank Bordeaux. Often blended. Sometimes referred to as Cabernet Sauvignon’s little bother. Merlot is elegant, lower in tannins, softer, and ready to drink earlier than Cab. Pairing screamingly well with duck, beef stew or a simple aged sheep’s milk cheese. In my backyard(Santa Barbara’s Wine Country), I am blessed to have many fine producers of this wonderful wine, at least 8 come to mind immediately. Though sales plummeted in 2004 after the movie Sideways (The Main character Miles panned it in two simple lines and the general public foolishly heeded his momentary disdain for this historic and gorgeous varietal), they have recovered nicely. This humble oenophile never lost interest in Merlot, and though I may no longer find Double-Gold-Medal-Award winning representatives of it for pennies on the dollar, it is still prevalent in my cellar and a welcome part of my culinary pairings almost weekly. Come, visit The Santa Ynez Valley and take a wine tour. We will share some of these gems with you!