Which is Sweeter: Merlot or Shiraz?

Last Updated on August 1st, 2023

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In general, both Merlot and Shiraz wines have only trace amounts of residual sugar. This means the actual sugar content is negligent. Merlot can still taste a bit sweeter because it’s lighter in body, whereas Shiraz often has bold, masculine flavors. Although Merlot and Shiraz aren’t the driest reds available by far, they also aren’t anywhere close to the sweetest.

Are All Varieties of One Sweeter Than Another?

No, all Merlots aren’t sweeter than all Shiraz wines. The world of wine doesn’t have a lot of absolutes, so certainly, a Shiraz wine can be sweeter than some Merlot wines. It depends on the climates in which the grapes were grown and the style of wine the winemaker is trying to produce. Jam Jar Sweet Shiraz and Sugarbird Sweet Shiraz are sweet and semi-sweet, respectively. Both are produced from Shiraz grapes grown in the hot climate of South Africa.

On the other hand, Verada Merlot Tri-County is a full-bodied, dry Merlot. It is hardly on the sweet side despite its notes of plum, blackberry, and vanilla.

Hands clinking wine glasses - Which is Sweeter: Merlot or Shiraz?

Which Is Nicer: Shiraz or Merlot?

Both Shiraz and Merlot wines are nice, dry red wines with medium to full body. But if that isn’t for you, there’s always a lighter or fuller wine within the same variety, one that’s sweeter or dryer, or maybe just one with a different flavor. Sometimes people say we need to develop a “taste” for wine, which might be true, or maybe we discover which wines we actually like after a lot of trial and error.

Asking whether Shiraz or Merlot wine is nicer is akin to asking which kind of coffee is better. What kind of coffee do you prefer? It’s that one; that’s the nicer one.

What’s the Difference Between Merlot and Shiraz Wines?

These wines differ a bit in body. Body describes how heavy the wine feels in your mouth. Light-bodied wines are more like water, full-bodied wines are heavier like milk, and medium-bodied wines are somewhere in between. Merlot is a medium-bodied wine, whereas Shiraz is a medium to full-bodied wine. Merlot can sometimes be full-bodied, but it’s usually on the lighter side. 

Of course, an obvious difference is that the wines are made from different varieties of grapes. But both Merlot and Shiraz grapes are black grapes that are widely grown across the world. Merlot is the 3rd most planted grape variety, and Shiraz is the 7th most planted.


You can find sweet Merlot wines and sweet Shiraz wines. But if you had to choose blindly 100 percent of the time, you’d likely find that Merlot tastes a little sweeter on average. However, they are both usually on the dry side without much sugar in them at all. There’s also no clear winner for which wine is best or nicer because wine is all about personal preference. If you’re willing to try wines other than Merlot and Shiraz, consider Malbec or Port, both of which are on the sweeter side.