Merlot holds its own

If you are a fan of merlot, you may have been feeling a little left out of the wine buzz. "Maybe you feel your preferences are a little outdated, and that you should be drinking something a bit more upscale, a little harder to pronounce, a tad more nuanced," writes Richard Fadeley. But you can relax, he says. Merlot is America's most popular wine. His panel recent held a blind tasting of 15 merlots. Here are the results.

Madonna di Como

Madonna di Como 2010 Dolcetto d'Alba ($14.99)

Very dark blackish-purple at the center shading to garnet, then clear at the very edge. Good, characterful Dolcetto aromas, blueberries and blackberries, and earthy moist clay. Fresh and bright on the palate, tart blueberries with a distinct edge of tannic astringency. Dark berries, a whiff of maraschino; a mineral note and a touch of lemon zest linger in the long finish. Good snap and structure and a discreet 12.5% alcohol level make it food-friendly.

More about this wine

Vino e Cucina d'Italia

White Sangiovese - it does exist

Ever heard of a white Sangiovese? Sangiovese is a red wine grape, but Neil Duarte found a small winery near Siena making a white wine from this iconic red grape. And, he reports, a very excellent white wine it is. Here's his report.