10 Best Merlot Wines Under $20 (2021)

Best Merlot Under $20 Featured

Cabernet Sauvignon is not the only good red wine. Like Cabernet, Merlot wines are also full-bodied wines that are counted among the most popular red wines. Merlot tends to be dry and has moderate acidity, with medium to high alcohol content and soft tannins. Merlot wines come in a variety of flavors, including plums, cocoa, graphite, herbs, and vanilla. Merlot wines are distinguished by their deep ruby red color, although the wines are less dark than Cabernet Sauvignon. Now, let us have a look at some of the top Merlot wines under $20.


Best Merlot Wines Under $20

Best Overall Best Value Best From California Best From Washington Best From South Africa Best From New Zealand Best From Australia Best From France Best From Chile Best From Italy
Bottle
Name Seven Falls Merlot William Hill Central Coast Merlot Decoy Sonoma County Merlot H3 Wines Merlot Indaba Merlot Oyster Bay Merlot Schild Estate Merlot Les Jamelles Merlot Montes Alpha Merlot Cotarella Sodale Merlot
Color Red Red Red Red Red Red Red Red Red Red
Country United States United States United States United States South Africa New Zealand Australia France Chile Italy
Grapes Merlot Merlot Merlot Merlot Merlot Merlot Merlot Merlot Merlot Merlot
Taste Ripe Plum, Dark Fruit, Cherry, Raspberry, Chocolate, Notes Of Smoke Plum, Blueberry, Cola, Vanilla, Spice Plum, Red Currant, Orange, Chocolate, Coffee, Cheese, Prune, Black Pepper, Charred Oak, Cinnamon Spice Blackberry, Black Cherry, Plum, Cola, Oak Black Cherry, Blackberry, Plum, Pepper, Mocha Peppercorn, Berries, Green Pepper, Licorice Plum, Black Cherry, Blackberry, Chocolate, Oak Caramel, Clafoutis, Cherries, Red Fruit Cherry, Plum, Fig, Cocoa, Vanilla, Chocolate Red Berries, Cherry, Blackberry, Vanilla
Food Pairing Osso Bucco, Pulled Pork, Grilled Sirloin, Skirt Steak Chicken Madeira, Roasted Turkey, Meaty Pasta, Dark Chocolate Meatloaf, Rabbit Casserole, Macaroni, And Cheese, Cheeseburgers Broiled Ribeye, Mexican Food, Meaty Stews, Beef Burgers Seared Salmon, Roasted Duck, Meaty Pasta, Mushrooms Marinara Pasta, Thai Food, Indian Food, Dark Chocolate Salsiccia Pasta, Flat Iron Steak, Grilled Pork Chops, BBQ Ribs Glazed Pork, Beef Pasta, Burgers, Indian Food Roasted Beef, Cheese Fondue, Gruyère, Indian Food Roasted Duck, Beef Stroganov, Beef Ravioli, Filet Mignon
Alcohol Content 14.5% 13.9% 13.5% 14.5% 12% 13% 13.5% 13% 14.5% 13.5%
Sugar Content Dry Dry Dry Dry Dry Dry Dry Dry Dry Dry
Our Rating 4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5) 4.3 out of 5 stars (4.3 / 5) 4.4 out of 5 stars (4.4 / 5) 4.3 out of 5 stars (4.3 / 5) 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5) 4.1 out of 5 stars (4.1 / 5) 4.3 out of 5 stars (4.3 / 5) 4.1 out of 5 stars (4.1 / 5) 4.3 out of 5 stars (4.3 / 5) 4.3 out of 5 stars (4.3 / 5)
Read Full Review
Buy Now!

Best Overall

  • Name — Seven Falls Merlot
  • Winery — Seven Falls
  • Country/Region — United States, Washington, Columbia Valley, Wahluke Slope
  • Type — Washington State Merlot
  • Aroma — Red Cherry, Black Cherry, Pepper, Milk Chocolate
  • Grapes — Merlot
  • Taste — Ripe Plum, Dark Fruit, Cherry, Raspberry, Chocolate, Notes Of Smoke
  • Alcohol Content — 14.5%
  • Sugar — Dry
  • Pairing — Osso Bucco, Pulled Pork, Grilled Sirloin, Skirt Steak
Overall Rating: 4.5

Positives
  • Strong Fruit Notes
  • Well-Balanced Acidity
  • Full Body
Negatives
  • Tad Too Sweet

The Seven Falls Merlot wine is produced in the Seven Falls Cellars wineries. It is considered the best American Merlot under $20 owing to its velvety and delectable taste. Sourcing its grapes exclusively from the Wahluke Slope, fondly called the backbone of the Washington wine industry, Seven Falls takes great pride in its wines. They create bold and ripe varietals with full body and fruity flavors.

The Seven Falls Merlot is made from 100 percent Merlot grapes. It is a layered, complex wine made by aging it in new oak barrels, French oak barrels, and American oak barrels. Aromas of blackcurrant and herbs are complemented by wood spice, ripe plum, cherry, raspberry, chocolate, and smoke flavors. It is a dry wine with soft tannins.


Best Value

  • Name — William Hill Central Coast Merlot
  • Winery — William Hill
  • Country/Region — United States, California, Central Coast
  • Type — Californian Merlot
  • Aroma — Black Cherry, Plum, Cinnamon, Vanilla, Herbal Notes
  • Grapes — Merlot
  • Taste — Plum, Blueberry, Cola, Vanilla, Spice
  • Alcohol Content — 13.9%
  • Sugar — Dry
  • Pairing — Chicken Madeira, Roasted Turkey, Meaty Pasta, Dark Chocolate
Overall Rating: 4.3

Positives
  • Moderately Bold
  • Smooth
  • Value For Money
Negatives
  • Slightly Too Thin

The William Hill Central Coast Merlot is produced in the famous California wine region. This red wine is believed to be a version of the bold Cabernet Sauvignon, owing to its full-bodied nature and substantial mouthfeel. The wine offers a smooth and lingering finish with bold aromas of black cherry, pepper, and chocolate. Lightly acidic, it has balanced flavors of raspberries, cherries, and hints of chocolate.

The USA is the third-largest producer of Merlot, just behind France and Italy, with California alone having harvested around 45,000 acres of Merlot grapes. Wines produced using the Californian Merlots are known for their coffee-like, chocolatey taste. They are dominated by fruity notes, including raspberry and blackberry, that are then balanced out with the presence of oak and vanilla. The tannins in Californian wines are often subtle.


Best From California

  • Name — Decoy Sonoma County Merlot
  • Winery — Decoy
  • Country/Region — United States, California, Sonoma County
  • Type — Californian Merlot
  • Aroma — Cherry, Raspberry, Blackberry, Licorice, Smoke, Vanilla Spice
  • Grapes — Merlot
  • Taste — Plum, Red Currant, Orange, Chocolate, Coffee, Cheese, Prune, Black Pepper, Charred Oak, Cinnamon Spice
  • Alcohol Content — 13.5%
  • Sugar — Dry
  • Pairing — Meatloaf, Rabbit Casserole, Macaroni, And Cheese, Cheeseburgers
Overall Rating: 4.4

Positives
  • Super Delicious
  • Delicate Texture From The First Sip
  • Structured And Complex
  • Velvety Tannins
  • Long, Creamy Finish
  • Aging Potential
Negatives
  • Acidity Can Be A Bit Overwhelming

Sonoma County is situated in Northern California, not too far from the famous Napa Valley. Just like Napa Valley, Sonoma County is famed for producing quality wines. One of Sonoma County’s most renowned wine producers is the Decoy, which produces attractively priced wines such as the Sauvignon Blanc, Red Blend, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Chardonnay, Rose, and the Merlot.

The Decoy Sonoma County Merlot is a red wine that is considered a good Merlot under $20. A blend of 96 percent Merlot and 4 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, it has balanced acidity, a smooth finish, and silky tannins. On the nose, cherries, berries, licorice, and vanilla are prominent. It also has a great balance of flavors such as black cherry, cassis, blueberry, vanilla, and cocoa and it is one of the best Merlots under $20.


Best From Washington

  • Name — H3 Wines Merlot
  • Winery — H3 Wines
  • Country/Region — United States, Washington, Columbia Valley, Horse Heaven Hills
  • Type — Washington State Merlot
  • Aroma — Blackberry, Oak, Vanilla, Cinnamon, Roses
  • Grapes — Merlot
  • Taste — Blackberry, Black Cherry, Plum, Cola, Oak
  • Alcohol Content — 14.5%
  • Sugar — Dry
  • Pairing — Broiled Ribeye, Mexican Food, Meaty Stews, Beef Burgers
Overall Rating: 4.3

Positives
  • Fruity
  • Well-Balanced
  • Nice Oak Profile
Negatives
  • Could Be a Little Bit Acidic

Washington State has slowly cemented its position among the leading producers of wine in the US. One of the most famous wine-growing regions in the state is the Columbia Valley that produces the H3 Wines Merlot. Although the region faces extreme weather conditions with hot summers and harsh winters, the area’s abundant sunlight helps the grapes to ripen well and develop greater complexity while retaining their refreshing acidity.

H3 Wines Merlot is one of the most popular wines produced in the Columbia Valley (besides our Seven Falls best overall pick). Similar to other Merlots brewed in the region, this wine is also known for having measured tannins, a soft texture, and moderate acidity and alcohol content. The robust aromas of blackberry, raspberries, plum, and spices like black pepper are well-complemented by flavors of ripe black cherry and cocoa. Overall, this wine has a silky palate and an intense yet elegant finish.


Best From South Africa

  • Name — Indaba Merlot
  • Winery — Indaba
  • Country/Region — South Africa, Western Cape
  • Type — South African Merlot
  • Aroma — Blackberry, Dark Cherry, Chocolate, Spice, Oak
  • Grapes — Merlot
  • Taste — Black Cherry, Blackberry, Plum, Pepper, Mocha
  • Alcohol Content — 12%
  • Sugar — Dry
  • Pairing — Seared Salmon, Roasted Duck, Meaty Pasta, Mushrooms
Overall Rating: 4.0

Positives
  • Velvety Finish
  • Soft Tannins
  • Good Everyday Wine
Negatives
  • Way Too Light

If you are wondering, “What is the best Merlot under $20 from South Africa?”, look no further than the Indaba Merlot, a well-known Merlot wine produced in the Stellenbosch coastal region of South Africa. The Indaba Merlot is counted among the finest red wines in the country. Indaba selects its produce from specific vineyards in Paarl and Paarl-Paardeberg. The vines are planted in soils having decomposed dolomite granite as well as deep weathered shale. Such soil provides the perfect moisture-retention capacity, thus producing a great yield.

Just like other Merlots from South Africa, the Indaba Merlot is an unblended drink that is characterized by its fruit-forward taste and soft tannins. Aged for three months in 20 percent American Oak and 80 percent French Oak, it is a medium-bodied wine that has low acidity. The aromas of black cherry, blackberries, and chocolate are delectable combined with the rich red fruit flavors, ending on a smooth and velvety finish.


Best From New Zealand

  • Name — Oyster Bay Merlot
  • Winery —  Oyster Bay
  • Country/Region — New Zealand, Hawke’s Bay, North Island
  • Type — New Zealand Merlot
  • Aroma — Red Cherry, Spicye, Plums, Jam, Oak, Vanilla
  • Grapes — Merlot
  • Taste — Peppercorn, Berries, Green Pepper, Licorice
  • Alcohol Content — 13%
  • Sugar — Dry
  • Pairing — Marinara Pasta, Thai Food, Indian Food, Dark Chocolate
Overall Rating: 4.1

Positives
  • Soft Tannins
  • Smooth Finish
  • Very Light
Negatives
  • Slightly Bitter Finish

Oyster Bay Merlot is renowned not just in New Zealand but all over the world. It’s no surprise, though, as the climatic conditions of New Zealand make it the perfect place to cultivate Merlot grapes. The presence of ancient alluvial soils and a cool maritime climate help Oyster Bay produce wines that are known for their unique fruit flavors.

The wine is bright with fruity cherry and plum aromas. The palate is fresh with ripe fruit, soft tannins, and subtle spices that leave a lingering finish. While an ideal climate plays a huge role in determining the quality of grapes, Oyster Bay winery also leaves no stone unturned to ensure that the wines are brewed in the best way possible. Each vineyard parcel at the vineries is created individually to build its special character. With great attention to detail, Oyster Bay aims to produce wines that are par excellence, ensuring unique character and complexity.


Best From Australia

  • Name — Schild Estate Merlot
  • Winery — Schild Estate
  • Country/Region — Australia, South Australia, Barossa, Barossa Valley
  • Type — Australian Merlot
  • Aroma — Black Plum, Cherry, Butter, Chocolate, Herbal Notes
  • Grapes — Merlot
  • Taste — Plum, Black Cherry, Blackberry, Chocolate, Oak
  • Alcohol Content — 13.5%
  • Sugar — Dry
  • Pairing — Salsiccia Pasta, Flat Iron Steak, Grilled Pork Chops, BBQ Ribs
Overall Rating: 4.3

Positives
  • Smooth Finish
  • Fruit-Forward
  • Lots Of Flavor
Negatives
  • Bit Overwhelming Tannins

Produced in the Barossa region of South Australia, the Schild Estate Wines Merlot is one of the best red wines created in Australia. Though Australia is typically associated with Shiraz, Merlots are not far behind. Since Merlot is a versatile grape that can grow in most climates, Australia produces a significant volume of Merlot wine every year. Most of these wines are inspired by the Merlot wines of Bordeaux and originate in the Margaret River area in Western Australia.

The Schild Estate Wines Merlot is characterized by a dark ruby red color. It is dominated by fruits such as plum, dark cherry, and raspberry, along with subtle notes of vanilla, mocha, graphite, clove, and nutmeg spice. It has soft tannins and a silky-smooth finish.


Best From France

  • Name — Les Jamelles Merlot
  • Winery — Les Jamelles
  • Country/Region — France, Vin de Pays, Pays d’Oc
  • Type — French Merlot
  • Aroma — Chocolate, Vanilla, Oak, Black Fruits
  • Grapes — Merlot
  • Taste — Caramel, Clafoutis, Cherries, Red Fruit
  • Alcohol Content — 13%
  • Sugar — Dry
  • Pairing — Glazed Pork, Beef Pasta, Burgers, Indian Food
Overall Rating: 4.1

Positives
  • Inexpensive
  • Subtle Flavors
  • Smooth Finish
Negatives
  • Slightly Too Sweet

The Les Jamelles Merlot is a red wine produced in the Languedoc-Roussillon region in the South of France. Some of the key wines produced in this region include Merlot, Cabernet, Mourvèdre, Syrah, and Grenache. Languedoc-Roussillon is also the largest wine-producing region in the world, with one-third of France’s wines originating here. Most of the wines produced here are blends and are known for being full-bodied and complex.

The Les Jamelles Merlot is one of the best Merlot under $20 from the Languedoc-Roussillon region. The grapes are macerated for 2-4 weeks, and a part of the cuvee is oak-aged to add complexity to the wine. The remaining portion of the cuvee undergoes thermovinification to increase fruitiness, suppleness, and roundedness. It is a round, complex, and elegant wine with an intense red color and rich flavors of cherry, wild strawberry, caramel, and clafoutis. It is a fruity, elegant, and complex wine that pairs well with a diverse range of cuisines.


Best From Chile

  • Name — Montes Alpha Merlot
  • Winery — Montes Alpha
  • Country/Region — Chile, Central Valley, Rapel Valley, Colchagua Valley
  • Type — Chilean Merlot
  • Aroma — Blackcurrant, Plum, Vanilla, Mocha, Oak
  • Grapes — Merlot
  • Taste — Cherry, Plum, Fig, Cocoa, Vanilla, Chocolate
  • Alcohol Content — 14.5%
  • Sugar — Dry
  • Pairing — Roasted Beef, Cheese Fondue, Gruyère, Indian Food
Overall Rating: 4.3

Positives
  • Pronounced Nose Intensity
  • Excellent Full Body
  • Unique Character
Negatives
  • Lacks Fruitiness

The Montes Alpha Merlot is one of the top-rated Merlot under $20 from South America, originating in Chile. The Chilean Merlot is reputed for being full-bodied yet subtle with low alcohol content and acidity and a unique green characteristic to it. Harvested in Colchagua Valley, 55% of the Montes Alpha Merlot is aged for 12 months and can be cellared for more than 10 years.

Despite being a rich, flavorful wine, no one flavor overpowers the other. This wine has aromas of ripe red and black fruits combined with notes of tobacco, leather, and creme de cassis. You can also taste the spicy tinge of red and black pepper complemented with cinnamon and dark chocolate notes. The Montes Alpha Merlot has a smooth and structured finish with silky tannins.


Best From Italy

  • Name — Cotarella Sodale Merlot
  • Winery — Cotarella
  • Country/Region — Italy, Lazio
  • Type — Italian Merlot
  • Aroma — Black Cherry, Plum, Fig, Tobacco, Chocolate
  • Grapes — Merlot
  • Taste — Red Berries, Cherry, Blackberry, Vanilla
  • Alcohol Content — 13.5%
  • Sugar — Dry
  • Pairing — Roasted Duck, Beef Stroganov, Beef Ravioli, Filet Mignon
Overall Rating: 4.3

Positives
  • Full Body
  • Consistent Finish
  • Very Easy To Drink
Negatives
  • Not Too Complex

What is the best Merlot wine under $20? The Cotarella Sodale Merlot is what you want. Produced in the famous Chianti region of Central Italy, this wine is made of 100% Merlot. The grape used to produce the Cotarella Sodale Merlot is cultivated on calcium-rich volcanic soils in Central Italy, thus ensuring complex and layered wines.

Like most red wines produced in Italy, the Cotarella Sodale Merlot is distinguished by its robust nature and is much richer and bolder than typical Merlots. However, you can expect it to be less fruity than the red wines of California and lighter than the Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine is dominated by the flavors of raspberry and cherries and has refined tannins.

Conclusion

Merlot is among the best and most popular red wines in the world. It is known for its superior quality, complex taste, and full body. Its moderate acidity and alcohol level makes it even more appealing to wine connoisseurs. Merlots are also one of the few wines that pair exceptionally well with numerous cuisines.

Scroll to Top