Like the kid who turns up to a party proudly rocking a fringe-forward mop-top only to find the hipsters have now all got Brylcreem-ed slickbacks, Merlot has never quite managed to be cool. The grapes' oft-quoted shortcomings are legion; too lightweight to please the connoisseurs; too smooth to be memorable; too humdrum to maintain a loyal audience. However it's these very easy-going characteristics that have, over time, made it more acceptable to the masses than many beard-strokey alternatives.
Plus, back in the 90s, Merlot got a huge leg-up in the popularity stakes when US scientists used it as an example in their claim that a couple of glasses of red a day leads to a longer life. Cue the sudden appearance outside the local liquor store of a line of previously tee-total Jacks, Zachs and Brangelinas, loading up their Hummers with pallets of the stuff. These days, with the global rise in wine quality, wine-makers across the world are crafting more distinctive varietals, such as The Back Deck (£8.49 Laithwaites) from Australia's McLaren Vale which has spicy red and black cherries bouncing off its walls. A glass impossible to put down without wanting to pick straight back up, it shows that being fashionable isn't always the coolest thing. *shaves off moustache and hides trilby*