Opening up a bottle of Malbec at a dinner party can make you feel like you’re that cool wine lover who goes off the beaten path. While Malbec is a globally loved wine, it’s nowhere near as popular or well-known as Merlot or Pinot Noir — but that won’t stop us from loving it. Famous for its deep purple color and spicy, savory flavors, Malbec wine is a perfect option for those who love strong flavored wine with plenty of body.
You may be interested in Malbec wine, but do you know what makes its flavors so intriguing? From its fascinating, cross-continental history to the best way to serve this deliciously full-bodied wine, this article will have you browsing the Malbec section when you make your next wine run.
What Is Malbec Wine?
Malbec wine is known for its deep purple color and full body. Malbec grapes are small and dark in color with very thick skins, producing a wine that has rich fruity flavors and medium tannin levels.
Malbec wines are often higher in alcohol than Merlot or Pinot Noir. Some bottles contain up to 15% ABV, so watch out for this boozy bottle if you’re trying to cut down on your alcohol intake.
Malbec grapes are fussy and can be difficult to grow, so they’re grown in much smaller quantities than other more popular red wines. Malbec grapes do well in sunny climates that also have cold nights. High elevation spots are perfect, like the Mendoza wine region nestled in the foothills of the Andes in Argentina.
In Bordeaux, France, Malbec is a popular blending grape. It’s often blended with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Gamay to make Bordeaux blends.
Fun Facts About Malbec Wine
- Malbec wine is one of the most popular red wines in the United States. Malbec is right behind Merlot, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Sauvignon in popularity.
- Malbec is more commonly known as Côt in France. Côt translates to “coast” in English.
- It’s theorized that Malbec got its name from a Hungarian peasant with the last name of Malbec or Malbeck who spread the grape all over France.
- While Malbec is predominantly known as a red wine, there is a popular rosé variety, which is crisp, fresh, and floral in flavor.
- April 17 is World Malbec Day. Put it in your calendar for another reason to celebrate wine!
Where Does the Malbec Grape Grow?
Malbec is synonymous with Argentina. In fact, before Argentina started growing it in the 18th century, Malbec was considered a low-quality grape that was only suitable for blending.
Today the Malbec grape takes up three-quarters of Argentina’s vineyards and is considered their most important grape.
While the Malbec grape originated in France (in the Cahors region), the Argentinian Malbec is the most celebrated. The two taste very different — while an Argentinian bottle is plummy and soft in texture, a French bottle is quite tart and savory.
There are three notable wine regions in Argentina producing the best Malbec:
- San Juan
All of these regions are perfect for growing Malbec grapes, as the vineyards are at high altitudes with plenty of sunshine.
Malbec is still grown in France, mainly in Bordeaux and the Loire Valley, but it does struggle with the cooler climate. In fact, the entire French crop was nearly destroyed in the mid-1950s due to adverse weather conditions.
Malbec also grows in other areas around the world, though in much smaller yields:
- South Africa
- New Zealand
What Does Malbec Wine Taste Like?
While we’ve covered that French and Argentine Malbec taste quite different, they do share some common tasting notes. Malbec is known for its jammy fruit flavors, but also for its highly savory notes. Some of these include:
- Black pepper
Warm-climate Malbecs, such as those produced in Argentina, South Africa, or Australia, exhibit dark fruit flavors like blackberry and plum. Cool-climate Malbecs, like the ones produced in France, have a more black cherry quality with hints of raspberry.
Malbec wines are also celebrated for tasting smooth and chocolatey on the tongue. They are low in acid but have a lot of structure. Some would even call them a meaty-tasting wine.
How To Pair Malbec Wine
Like many red wines, Malbec wine pairs well with meat, especially red meat. However, unlike some of its red wine cousins (Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot) it doesn’t have a very long finish, making it easy to overwhelm with fattier meats. Instead, seek out lean cuts of beef, turkey, or even ostrich.
For vegetarians looking for a perfect Malbec food pairing, look to blue cheese. A cheese board or a grilled blue cheese sandwich would be an exuberant treat, while a blue cheese souffle is a perfect dinner party option.
Vegan wine lovers, don’t despair — we haven’t forgotten about you! The secret to pairing Malbec with food is remembering its tasting notes of pepper. A couscous-stuffed roasted red pepper would be an ideal food pairing. Use plenty of olive oil to counteract the tannic nature of the wine.
How To Serve Malbec Wine
Contrary to popular belief, red wine isn’t always best served at room temperature. Malbec wine is no exception. Before serving Malbec, try popping it in the fridge for half an hour. This should cool it to just below room temperature, and will allow you to experience Malbec’s full depth of flavor.
Because Malbec is a full-bodied wine, choose a wide-bowled glass. A glass with a wide mouth will allow you to experience the intense fruity aromas of the Malbec, while the large glass should soften the spicy tasting notes and balance the savory flavors.
Finally, Malbec is a wine that benefits from decanting. Before serving your bottle, pour the wine into a decanter and leave it for 30 minutes. Not only will this get rid of any sediment found in the bottle, but decanting your Malbec will aerate the wine and make the flavors and aromas more vibrant upon drinking.
Malbec: Argentina’s Pride and Joy
Though Malbec wine may be considered a secondary grape varietal to European winemakers, Argentina has made Malbec their own. Boasting a full body, exceptionally fruity flavors, and a unique purple color, it’s not hard to see why.
While French Malbecs can be quite tart (and harder to get hold of than Argentine Malbecs) they do make excellent blends. Look out for Bordeaux blends, which combine Malbec with other Bordeaux-grown wines to make delicious lighter options.
If you’re in the market for a strong-flavored wine, and you don’t mind the high alcohol levels, Malbec wine may be just what you’re looking for. Remember to pair it with lean red meats, creamy blue cheese, or peppery vegetable dishes.
Whether you’re a fan of Malbec wine or not, this hardy little grape’s tale of survival is fascinating and deserves to be known by anyone who loves wine. From near extinction in France to an incredible comeback across the globe, Malbec is a fighter. We’ll be celebrating this wine all year round.
What does Malbec wine taste like? ›
The main fruit flavors of Argentinian Malbec are blackberry, plum, and black cherry. The nuanced flavors offer milk chocolate, cocoa powder, violet flowers, leather, and, depending on the amount of oak aging, a sweet tobacco finish.What pairs well with Malbec wine? ›
You'll find Malbec a great match for steak, pork, and lamb, as well as fattier fish like salmon and poultry with dark meat. Game meat—like bison, ostrich, and venison—are also a safe bet. In addition to meat pairings, consider foods with richer sauces or more vibrant flavors.What should a good Malbec taste like? ›
What Does Malbec Taste Like? Most Malbec wines are smooth with jammy fruit flavor and savory notes of black cherry, pomegranate, plum, raspberry, and raisin. There are also hints of coffee, leather, tobacco, molasses, and black pepper.Is Malbec sweet or sour? ›
Malbec is dry rather than sweet, but the plush intensity gives this wine a hint of sweetness, so it's not as dry as Cabernet Sauvignon, for example. Barefoot Malbec features hints of blackberry, blackcurrant, vanilla, caramel and a hint of toasted oak, so it's better known for rich complexity than sweetness.Does Malbec wine taste dry or sweet? ›
Malbec wines are dry, full-bodied, and exhibit rich, dark fruit nose and flavors like blackberry and red plum. They're juicy and jammy, with notes of vanilla, tobacco, dark chocolate, and oak. With medium acid and moderate levels of tannins, they pair well with food.Is Malbec a good wine for beginners? ›
While malbec as a grape is often touted for tannins (the components in wine that add structure but dry out your mouth), I don't encounter strong tannins in many malbecs. This makes malbec a good red wine for beginners.Do you drink Malbec warm or cold? ›
Pinot Noir is best served between 55-60°F, while Merlot, Syrah, Zinfandel, Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon are best served between 60-65°F. If you're storing your wine in a warm area, such as your kitchen, put a bottle of red in the fridge about 30 minutes before you're ready to serve it.Which Flavour would you associate with Malbec? ›
A classical Malbec wine tends to ignite the following flavours: Plums. Black cherries. Pomegranate.What is the best way to drink Malbec? ›
Malbec wines are best served in a traditional red wine glass, slightly chilled, somewhere in the realm of 60-65 degrees.Do you refrigerate Malbec after opening? ›
Keep the open wine bottle out of light and stored under room temperature. In most cases, a refrigerator goes a long way to keeping wine for longer, even red wines. When stored at colder temperatures, the chemical processes slow down, including the process of oxidation that takes place when oxygen hits the wine.
Which is nicer Malbec or Merlot? ›
Merlot and malbec are similar easy-drinking reds and both are used in Bordeaux blends, but they have certain differences as well: Malbec is more tangy and fruity than merlot and therefore tastes thinner, where Merlot is more full-bodied and smooth. Malbec is more commonly paired with spicy foods.What grapes blend well with Malbec? ›
In Bordeaux, France, Malbec is a popular blending grape. It's often blended with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Gamay to make Bordeaux blends.Are malbecs good with steak? ›
Due to its fruity flavor and bold scent, Malbec is a great choice to accompany a more lean cut of steak, such as a top sirloin or a flank steak. While you can eat Malbec with a fattier cut like filet mignon, its richness may overwhelm the flavor of the meat. What country has the best Malbec?Can you drink Malbec with chicken? ›
It pairs well with nearly every type of food, including poultry. Try the excellent Vina Maipo Carmenere Vitral from Chile's Rapel Valley. Malbec: Malbec features a rich, full bodied taste with berry-like fruit flavors. It is a dry wine and pairs well with grilled chicken, chicken enchiladas, and other chicken dishes.Is Pinot Noir sweeter than Malbec? ›
Let's start easy: both are considered dry red wines. Like Pinot Noir, Merlot wine has less than 0.5g of residual sugar, making it an extremely dry wine. On the other hand, Malbec wine is sweeter, with around 1.5g of residual sugar.Is Malbec a light or heavy wine? ›
And finally, Malbec is a wonderful example of a world famous full bodied red wine. It's produced in Chile and France, but Argentina leads the production of the grape. It's an easy drinking medium tannin wine presenting fruits like black cherry, pomegranate, plum and raisin.Is Malbec wine high in sugar? ›
Off-Dry Red Wine
These wines have subtle sweetness and contain about 3-5 grams of sugar per pour. Here are some popular off-dry red wine styles: Malbec. Grenache.
Malbec is so popular because not only is it affordable but it's easy to drink, it's a perfect pair to many different types of food, and it's a crowd pleaser. If you're looking an affordable, delicious alternative to the usual Merlot of Cabernet Sauvignon you should give Malbec a try!Why is Malbec wine so good? ›
Full-flavoured foods pair best because Malbec is a fuller-bodied wine. Malbec produces red wines with medium acidity and medium tannins. Through the full flavours, and medium acidity, Malbec is less overwhelming or niche on the palette, making this flavour more popular.Is Malbec the healthiest red wine? ›
As an especially thick-skinned variety, Malbec claims higher antioxidant levels than other red wines especially in terms of resveratrol. This variety has two to four times the amount of anti-inflammatory, health boosting antioxidants than other popular red wines like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.
What is the most easy drinking red wine? ›
- Merlot. ...
- Shiraz. ...
- Zinfandel. ...
- Pinot Noir. ...
- Gamay. ...
- Garnacha. ...
- Petite Sirah. ...
- Malbec. Malbec is one of those wines that can quickly become someone's go-to order.
In addition, pinot noir has the lowest sugar content and the least amount of calories among red wines. Malbec: Due to their thick skin, Malbec grapes have a high concentration of resveratrol, quercetin, and other antioxidants that can improve cardiovascular and immune health.What is Malbec similar to? ›
- Cabernet Sauvignon.
- Pinot Noir.
When sealed and stored in a cool, dark place or a fridge, red wines like Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Malbec can last for around four days. As a general rule, red wines with higher tannin and acidity tend to last longer once opened. Late harvest reds can also stay fresh for up to four days.Do you need to let Malbec breathe? ›
Whether it's a young Napa Cab, an Argentine Malbec or Aussie Shiraz, these wines typically need a dose of oxygen to smooth out any roughness and soften tannins. Of course, if you enjoy the punch that these wines can pack straight out of the bottle, there's no need to delay.What wine is most similar to Malbec? ›
Syrah is more similar to Old World Malbec with its notes of olive, black pepper spice, smoke, and even bacon fat in some instances. It is commonly seen as a single variety wine or can be blended with other grape varieties such as Grenache and Mourvedre in Côtes du Rhône blends.Does Malbec go with pasta? ›
Malbec pairs best with pasta with a meat sauce or ragu. Pair Malbec with spaghetti Bolognese, lasagna, or meat-stuffed ravioli.Can you drink red wine 7 days after opening? ›
In general, table wines last three to five days after they've been opened. Fortified wines, or dessert wines, like Port and Sherry, can last much longer; some say months or even years.How long does Malbec stay good after opening? ›
Examples of red full-bodied wines include Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and Merlot. After opening, these wines can be kept for 3-5 days as long as they are stored in a cool, dark place with a cork on.Is it OK to leave red wine open overnight? ›
If your hesitation about pouring that glass is because you're worried about whether or not the wine will “turn” or “expire,” like milk or juice might, have no fear. Drinking wine the next day, or even a few days after originally opening the bottle, isn't going to hurt you.
What is Malbec versus Pinot Noir? ›
Malbec is the meatier of the two varieties, offering structure and tannin to the blend. Conversely, Pinot Noir is more aromatic, giving perfume to the wines. When properly balanced, Malbec and Pinot Noir blends can exhibit plums and violets on the nose, with classic red-berry and dark-raspberry flavors.How is Malbec different from cabernet? ›
They are both red grapes originally from France, but Malbec comes from the Bordeaux region and Cabernet Franc is likely from Burgundy. Cabernet Franc produces robust wines with chalky tannins, and strawberry, raspberry, and green herbal notes. Malbec wines have softer tannins and blueberry, blackberry, and red plum.Is Shiraz better than Malbec? ›
Malbec Wine vs Shiraz Wine
While Malbec and Shiraz are both fruity, full-bodied wines, Shiraz is slightly more complex. Malbec is smoother with notes of plum, blackcurrant, and vanilla, whereas Shiras is smoky and spicy, delivering a peppery finish on the palate.
The analysis revealed that Malbec and Merlot share the same female parent, a long-forgotten cultivar recently renamed Magdeleine Noire des Charentes. The male parent of Malbec is Prunelard, an old and endangered cultivar from southwest France.What red wine is best for ribeye steak? ›
Many experts recommend pairing ribeye steak with a Cabernet Sauvignon, as the high tannins help to cut through the juiciness and fattiness of the cut. A spicy Zinfandel is another nice choice, as the fruitiness of the wine contrasts well with the ribeye's robust meatiness.Does Malbec go with Thanksgiving dinner? ›
Roasted turkey, pepper-crusted beef tenderloins, or rosemary lamb chops, Malbec is a great versatile and food-friendly wine that can be enjoyed with a wide variety of dishes. A few of our Thanksgiving favorites include green bean casserole and cornbread stuffing.What is the wine that is often eaten with steak? ›
Cabernet is the most popular wine for a reason. Cabernets have a relatively balanced flavor profile and tend to have the acid and bitterness to cut through even the meatiest of meats. Cabernet Sauvignon is your get out of jail free card if you're trying to pair a wine with your steak.What Cannot be eaten with red wine? ›
- Chocolate. Why It Doesn't Work. ...
- Brussel Sprouts. Why It Doesn't Work. ...
- Asparagus. Why It Doesn't Work. ...
- Blue Cheese. Why It Doesn't Work. ...
- Sushi. Why It Doesn't Work. ...
- Soy Sauce. Why It Doesn't Work.
You can even pair Malbec with fish. Yes, you heard that correctly. Richer-bodied, fatty fish with bold flavors work surprisingly well. Think along the lines of grilled or blackened salmon, bluefish and swordfish.Is Malbec good with seafood? ›
Malbec stands up well to a bit of spice and the present (but not aggressive) tannins don't over power the shrimp, that little pop of palate acidity adds a lovely note as well.
Is Malbec sweeter than Merlot? ›
Let's start easy: both are considered dry red wines. Like Pinot Noir, Merlot wine has less than 0.5g of residual sugar, making it an extremely dry wine. On the other hand, Malbec wine is sweeter, with around 1.5g of residual sugar.What is Malbec most similar to? ›
Syrah is more similar to Old World Malbec with its notes of olive, black pepper spice, smoke, and even bacon fat in some instances. It is commonly seen as a single variety wine or can be blended with other grape varieties such as Grenache and Mourvedre in Côtes du Rhône blends.Is Pinot Noir healthier than Malbec? ›
In addition, pinot noir has the lowest sugar content and the least amount of calories among red wines. Malbec: Due to their thick skin, Malbec grapes have a high concentration of resveratrol, quercetin, and other antioxidants that can improve cardiovascular and immune health.Why is Malbec so popular? ›
Malbec produces red wines with medium acidity and medium tannins. Through the full flavours, and medium acidity, Malbec is less overwhelming or niche on the palette, making this flavour more popular.Is Malbec a strong wine? ›
Malbec wines are often higher in alcohol than Merlot or Pinot Noir. Some bottles contain up to 15% ABV, so watch out for this boozy bottle if you're trying to cut down on your alcohol intake.Is Malbec good for sipping? ›
With its fascinating, international history and potent plum-like notes, Malbec is considered one of the more unique wine options for modern-day cuisine. Bold, unctuous, and deeply crimson, this unusual wine is certainly worth a sip (or a few).Does Malbec need to breathe? ›
Whether it's a young Napa Cab, an Argentine Malbec or Aussie Shiraz, these wines typically need a dose of oxygen to smooth out any roughness and soften tannins. Of course, if you enjoy the punch that these wines can pack straight out of the bottle, there's no need to delay.