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Because when I listen here, it sound like "merk-lo", like "mer" which is mɛ+ʀ.

But my friend said it is me-lo.

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    I can distinctly hear the R in merlot which is pronounced as it should : mɛʁ.lo . And BTW Kudos for one participant in that discussion for his épices très violentes which is absolutely correct as well. – aCOSwt Sep 1 '18 at 4:44
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After listening to the clip I can assure you (as sCOSwt does in a comment) that the sound "kay" is not heard and that the sound of the French "R" is sufficiently distinct; however it is not the typical variant (allophone): it is somewhat weak, tending towards the Belgian pronunciation of r or that of the Scottish "ch" as in "Loch Ness". That is probably why, your friends, not being indigenous speakers of French, believe they are hearing "ê" instead of "êr".

later addition: Now that I think of it I must add that the slight divergence in the pronunciation of r that I mention above is even more important in the source you provide for « mer » and that you might find other sources that remain faithful to standard French.

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    The speakers are from Switzerland, so that may be rather a light Swiss accent. – Greg Sep 1 '18 at 9:35

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