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Merlot vs Pinot noir - Health impact and Nutrition Comparison

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Merlot
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Pinot noir

Introduction

Origin and history

The origin of wine dates back to 6000 BC in the Caucasus region. According to archeologists the oldest winery ever found was in Areni, Armenia. The Areni cave winery dates back to 6100 BC.

Wine is a fundamental part of human culture and social gatherings. At some point in history, wine was considered a divine drink. In old Greek mythology, Dionysus was the god of wine. Similarly, in later Roman mythology, Bacchus was the god of wine. Wine was a very important aspect of nobility and religion in those cultures that temples were built for these gods.

Difference in winemaking

Winemaking is a craft that takes years to master. Making and perfecting wine has a lot of variables and milestones that need to be perfected. The final product depends on different types of grapes, different types of yeast, the soil that the grape was planted on, and the barrels that the wine is aged in. It also depends if the grapes are peeled or unpeeled.
The wine is obtained after undergoing a fermentation process that has to be controlled.

This article will cover the difference between merlot wine and pinot noir, both are red wines.

Merlot wine is one of the most popular wines around the world. It is made from dark red grapes which are mostly grown in temperate climate regions, this grape gives a ruby red wine color. It can range from a sweet fruity taste to a rich oaky taste.

On the other hand, pinot noir is dark red and is made from dark red-blue grapes. These grapes grow in clusters tightly close together and are usually dark in color, thus their name in french is “pinot noir”.

Difference in flavor

Merlot wine is usually a dry wine. The concept of dry winemaking is that the sugar present in the product after pressing the grapes is fully fermented into alcohol by yeast. Sometimes, purposefully, during the winemaking process, a little bit of this sugar is kept to increase the fruitiness and flavor of the wine. However, this one is still considered a red dry wine.

Merlot wine is a fruity wine with hints of either raspberry, cherry, or strawberry.

Pinot noir, on the other hand, is a dry wine with either cherry, raspberry, or earthy flavors. Pinot noir is sometimes aged in French oak barrels which give it vanilla and oaky aftertaste.

Merlot and pinot noir are 2 completely different wines. Their difference starts from the first step of winemaking which is the grape.
The Merlot grape has more tannins, a fuller, and richer taste, and is darker in color. The grape merlot is classified as a full-bodied and flavored grape. Whereas Pinot noir has a lighter-bodied grape, the grapes are more delicate, they are grown and cultivated in cooler zones.

Merlot wine is the highest-produced wine in France.

Merlot is considered a lighter wine, if not the lightest wine, with fruity flavors. Compared to merlot, Pinot noir has a stronger taste with oakier flavors.

Culinary world

Not all wines are made for the same purpose and the same usage. Some wines are entré wines, some others are associated with main courses.

Merlot is considered a more fruity and lighter profiled wine compared to Pinot noir. Comparatively, merlot is a more versatile type of wine. Depending on the type of preparation merlot wine can range from a light-bodied wine to a complex and rich flavored wine.
Light-bodied merlot is usually associated with an entré, meat, a salad, and even can be associated with creamy pasta. As the complexity and flavors of the dish increase, the more complex merlot profiles can be associated with that food. Oaky vanilla-flavored merlot can be associated with pork, lamb, or beefsteak.

Pinot noir is a more complex and richer wine compared to merlot. This wine should not be associated with a strong and complex dish so that the complexity and flavors of the wine don’t get masked by that of the dish, or vice-versa. So the pinot noir is usually associated with earthy flavored dishes, a rosemary thyme steak or pork, a mushroom risotto, or a lamb lollipop with light earthy flavors.

Cooking

Merlot and pinot noir can be used in cooking. Depending on the flavor profiling required a specific wine is usually considered. For a lighter profile, merlot is a better option. For a stronger profile, pinot noir can be considered.
Red wine can be used in marinades of beef, lamb, duck. It can also be used during pasta or other cooking preparations.
The alcohol% decreases from these dishes and it adds a whole new flavor profile to the dish.

Pricing

In the US market, Merlot bottles usually range between 5$ and 20$. Although, higher quality merlots can also be found. The average price between them usually is around $10.

On the other hand, Pinot noir ranges from 5$ to 50$. The average price is around $20.

The price difference is due to the delicacy of the grapes and the methods of growing. The storage methods and barrels that are used to age and store the pinot noir affect its value and price.

Nutritional data comparison

Glycemic index

The glycemic index of merlot is higher than that of pinot noir. It is 15, which is classified as a low glycemic index. Whereas, the glycemic index of pinot noir is 0.

Calories

Merlot and pinot noir have similar calories 83 calories for merlot and 82 calories for pinot noir.

Carbs

Merlot and pinot noir have approximately the same amounts of carbs. Merlot has a little bit more carbs than pinot noir, however, that difference can be considered negligible. Merlot has 2.5g of carbs whereas pinot noir has 2.3g of carbs.

Protein

Merlot and pinot noir have negligible amounts of proteins.

Fats

Merlot and pinot noir have 0g of fats.

Minerals

Merlot is richer in all minerals compared to pinot noir which has negligible amounts of minerals. Merlot is mostly richer in copper, zinc, phosphorus, iron, magnesium.

Vitamins

Merlot is richer in vitamin B6, B2, and B3 compared to pinot noir. Pinot noir has negligible amounts of vitamins.

Alcohol

Merlot and pinot noir have similar amounts of alcohol, ranging between 13-15%. However, some merlot that has a stronger profile can have a higher alcohol%.

Health impacts

This part of the article focuses on the health benefits and positive impacts that affect the human system when wine is consumed in moderation.

Cardiovascular health

Wine is rich in antioxidants mostly resveratrol which has protective properties towards the cardiovascular system. (1)

Resveratrol lowers blood LDL levels and total triglycerides which in turn protects against cardiovascular health diseases mostly atherosclerosis. In addition to lowering LDL and triglycerides, resveratrol increases HDL levels in the blood. (2) (3)

Antioxidative properties

Merlot is rich in antioxidants, mostly quercetin, catechin. All these belong to the family of polyphenols which have a potent effect in decreasing free radicals by scavenging effects.
On the other hand, the antioxidative compounds of pinot noir are anthocyanins which have a similar effect on free radicals.

Overall, the effect of the polyphenols of merlot and anthocyanins of pinot noir decreases the levels of free radicals and overall oxidative stress. In turn, decreasing systemic inflammation caused by stress. (4) (5)

Diabetes

Women who consume wine in moderation have had a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. In addition to this, blood sugar levels were decreased. (6)

Gastro-intestinal health and cancer

Moderate consumption of red wine is associated with a decreased rate of gastric cancer development. (7)

In addition to the above, wine consumption reduces the risks of Barett’s esophagus. Which results after prolonged periods of acid reflux. It is important to note that increased alcohol consumption increases the risks of acid reflux. Thus, it is always too important to mention that moderate consumption of wine provides benefits. (8)


Resveratrol, the antioxidants present in red wine, is associated with decreased rates of developing pancreatic cancer. (9)

Downsides

Consumption of large amounts of wine causes blackouts, dizziness, nausea. All the symptoms of being drunk. Thus it is important to always drink in moderation and with caution.

Constant alcohol consumption causes alcoholism which is alcohol addiction. In addition to that, long-term alcohol consumption, including merlot and pinot noir, can cause liver cirrhosis if the consumption is not controlled for a long period with excessive consumption.

Although wine has multiple benefits, if not consumed in moderation, all these benefits turn into negative effects which cause health problems.

Alcohol and medication

It is always recommended not to consume alcohol with any type of medicine. The mix of alcohol and medication can cause adverse effects from side effects like drowsiness and nausea. The activity of the medication might be increased or decreased. It also might cause liver damage due to the increased activity of the liver metabolizing the medication and metabolizing alcohol.

The most important medications that shouldn’t be associated with alcohol are antibiotics, psychiatric medication, and hypertension medications.

Diets and weight loss

Red wine consumption with a high fat and high carb meal showed lower insulin spikes in the blood and reduced absorption of fats and glucose. However, this doesn't mean that red wine causes weight loss.

Keto

For keto diets, wines like merlot and pinot noir can be consumed due to their low carb levels. Dry wines, in general, can be consumed in keto diets, whereas sweet or semi-sweet wines cannot be.

Vegan

Merlot and Pinot noir can be consumed by vegans.

Summary

Merlot is a lighter and more versatile wine richer in copper, zinc, phosphorus, iron, magnesium, vitamins B6, B3, and B2. In addition to that, merlot is a cheaper wine. In comparison, pinot noir has a richer and oakier profile compared to merlot. It has a lower glycemic index.

References

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23973200/
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20534755/
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25003545/
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23278327/
  5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26593562/
  6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30487561/
  7. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15901992/
  8. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25047401/
  9. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20952510/
Article author photo Jack  Yacoubian
Profession: Haigazian Medical University
Last updated: July 14, 2021

Infographic

Merlot vs Pinot noir infographic
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Mineral Comparison

Mineral comparison score is based on the number of minerals by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" chart below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food
Merlot
7
:
Iron Calcium Potassium Magnesium Copper Zinc Phosphorus Sodium 18% 3% 12% 9% 4% 4% 10% 1%
Iron Calcium Potassium Magnesium Copper Zinc Phosphorus Sodium 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0%

Vitamin Comparison

Vitamin comparison score is based on the number of vitamins by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" chart below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food
Merlot
8
:
Vitamin C Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Vitamin B12 Vitamin K Folate 0% 0% 0% 0% 2% 8% 5% 2% 14% 0% 0% 1%
Vitamin C Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Vitamin B12 Vitamin K Folate 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0%

Vitamin and Mineral Summary Scores

The summary score is calculated by summing up the daily values contained in 300 grams of the product. Obviously the more the food fulfills human daily needs, the more the summary score is.
Vitamin Summary Score
2
Merlot
0
Pinot noir
Mineral Summary Score
7
Merlot
0
Pinot noir

Macronutrients Comparison

Macronutrient comparison charts compare the amount of protein, total fats, and total carbohydrates in 300 grams of the food. The displayed values show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of food.
Protein
0%
Merlot
0%
Pinot noir
Carbohydrates
3%
Merlot
2%
Pinot noir
Fats
0%
Merlot
0%
Pinot noir

Comparison summary table

Pay attention to the most right column. It shows the amounts side by side, making it easier to realize the amount of difference.
Merlot Pinot noir
Lower in Sugar ok
Lower in Sodium ok
Lower in glycemic index ok
Lower in price ok
Rich in minerals ok
Rich in vitamins ok
Lower in Cholesterol Equal
Lower in Saturated Fat Equal

Which food is preferable for your diet?

ok
ok
is better in case of low diet
Merlot Pinot noir
Low Calories diet ok
Low Fats diet Equal
Low Carbs diet ok
Low glycemic index diet ok

People also compare

Comparison summary

Which food is lower in Sugar?
Pinot noir
Pinot noir is lower in Sugar (difference - 0.62g)
Which food contains less Sodium?
Pinot noir
Pinot noir contains less Sodium (difference - 4mg)
Which food is lower in glycemic index?
Pinot noir
Pinot noir is lower in glycemic index (difference - 15)
Which food is cheaper?
Merlot
Merlot is cheaper (difference - $1)
Which food is richer in minerals?
Merlot
Merlot is relatively richer in minerals
Which food is richer in vitamins?
Merlot
Merlot is relatively richer in vitamins
Which food contains less Cholesterol?
?
The foods are relatively equal in Cholesterol ( mg)
Which food contains less Saturated Fat?
?
The foods are relatively equal in Saturated Fat ( g)

All nutrients comparison - raw data values

Nutrient Merlot Pinot noir Opinion
Calories 83 82 Merlot
Protein 0.07 0.07
Fats 0 0
Vitamin C 0 Merlot
Carbs 2.51 2.31 Merlot
Cholesterol
Vitamin D
Iron 0.46 Merlot
Calcium 8 Merlot
Potassium 127 Merlot
Magnesium 12 Merlot
Sugar 0.62 Pinot noir
Fiber 0 Merlot
Copper 0.011 Merlot
Zinc 0.14 Merlot
Starch
Phosphorus 23 Merlot
Sodium 4 Pinot noir
Vitamin A
Vitamin E
Vitamin D
Vitamin B1 0.005 Merlot
Vitamin B2 0.031 Merlot
Vitamin B3 0.224 Merlot
Vitamin B5 0.03 Merlot
Vitamin B6 0.057 Merlot
Vitamin B12 0 Merlot
Vitamin K
Folate 1 Merlot
Trans Fat 0 0
Saturated Fat
Monounsaturated Fat
Polyunsaturated fat
Tryptophan
Threonine
Isoleucine
Leucine
Lysine
Methionine
Phenylalanine
Valine
Histidine
Fructose

References

The source of all the nutrient values on the page (excluding the main article the sources for which are presented separately if present) is the USDA's FoodCentral. The exact links to the foods presented on this page can be found below.

  1. Merlot - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/171925/nutrients
  2. Pinot noir - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/174835/nutrients

All the Daily Values are presented for males aged 31-50, for 2000 calorie diets.

Data provided by FoodStruct.com should be considered and used as information only. Please consult your physician before beginning any diet.