The best wines offer aging potential and take meals to another level. This is where Malbec excels. This big, bold wine is expressive and delicious, and it makes an ideal candidate for both cellar aging and dinner pairing. The right pairing with Malbec delights the senses, leaving you eager to explore other combinations with this fantastic varietal.
Malbec Around the World
Before delving into the best way to pair Malbec with food, it’s important to know a bit of history about this wine.
This thin-skinned, dark purple-black grape is native to southwestern France, where it has been a local favorite for centuries. During the medieval age, Malbec was known as the black wine of Cahors, where it drew wide appeal for its inky color and bold taste. In fact, it was was such a favored wine that it earned numerous names. You might have called it Cot, Auxerrois, Cote Rouge, Jacobain, Pied Rouge, or Cahors.
Over time, the grape arrived in Bordeaux vineyard plantings, where it became one of the five main varieties in Bordeaux blends. Two chateaux—Pressac and Malbec—brought greater range to this inky wine. Their bottlings generated two more names for the wine, Noir de Pressac and Malbec. Today, Malbec is the most internationally recognized version, although many places in France still know the wine as Cot.
The 19th-century phylloxera epidemic almost wiped out French Malbec plantings, but luckily, some acreage survived. You’ll see about 15,000 vineyard acres devoted to this variety, primarily around Cahors. By the 1850s, Malbec rose to greater heights elsewhere. In the drier air, higher elevations, and warmer, sunnier climate of Argentina, grapes burst forth with renewed vigor. Today, Argentina outproduces France for Malbec grapes, growing about 109,000 vineyard acres.
Fun fact: April 17 is designated International Malbec Day.
What Malbec Tastes Like
To select the ideal bottle, you need to decide on where in the world it will come from. Since Argentina and France produce the most bottlings, they have the most distinctive and notable flavor profiles.
Most Argentinean wine grows in and around Mendoza, the traditional wine region accounting for about 86 percent of all production. Malbec from this central region, including the Uco Valley and Lujan de Cuyo, has moderate tannins and acidity. It is stronger in blackberry, black plum, and black cherry notes, along with florals, tobacco, warm spices, minerals, and a chocolatey finish.
Patagonia Malbec to the south has more minerals and red fruit notes along with slightly lower alcohol content. Malbec in Salta and La Rioja to the north has riper red and black fruits and an ABV approaching 15 percent.
French Malbec reveals tart currants and less ripe blackberries, plums, and raspberries. It has a stronger savory presence mixed with grippier tannins and higher acidity due in part to the limestone soils of Cahors.
Tips for How to Pair Malbec
Pairing food with Malbec is simpler than you might think. Since the wine has a fuller body, it's an excellent match for stronger-flavored and richer foods. Avoid pairing it with delicate or subtle flavors, which will lead to the wine completely overwhelming the dish.
Interestingly, the more moderate tannins in this wine lend themselves to a wide range of meats, where leaner cuts work equally well. 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. Avoid bitter vegetables or vinegar dressings, though, which can create bitter or metallic notes in the wine.
Here are some categories to consider:
Sauces and Spices
- Barbecue sauces
- Rustic and hearty sauces
- Asian spices
- Blue cheese
- Goat cheese
Pairing Malbec with a Variety of Dishes
Here are some of the main course dishes that pair exceptionally well with Malbec.
1. Blue Cheese Burger
Blue cheese burgers have a bold flavor, but they make an excellent pairing with an Argentinean variety. The wine offers a dark fruitiness that complements the pungent blue cheese, while its moderate tannins are a match for the richness of the burger and cheese. You’ll enjoy how the charred meat lends a smoky taste that complements the sweet tobacco notes in the wine.
2. Roasted Lamb and Mint
Lamb and mint is an exceptional pairing, so it’s only natural to add an Argentinean bottle of Malbec that further enhances the match. Remember to avoid mint chimichurri, which contains vinegar, and opt for a mint marinade that brings out fresh florals and fruitiness in the wine.
3. Marinated Flank Steak
Malbec marries well with a leaner cut of beef like flank steak. Marinating that steak in a French Malbec creates an even deeper connection to the meal, and helps to tenderize the meat. You can grill the steak and cook it with shallots or red onions to give the dish a sweet taste.
4. Mushroom Stuffed Peppers
French Malbec is the perfect complement to the savory notes in mushroom stuffed peppers, offering its own savory flavors along with red and black fruits. This pairing is proof that Malbec isn’t just a match for meat-based dishes. To bring out the best in this pairing, add a richer cheese like Gorgonzola to the stuffed mixture.
5. Thai Barbecue Chicken
Malbec goes well with barbecue sauce of nearly any kind—sweet, spicy, tangy, or a combination of all three. Thai barbecue sauce has plenty of contrasting flavor notes thanks to ingredients like garlic, ginger, honey, and lime. These flavors just happen to suit the wine’s often-spicier profile. Marinate the chicken, grill it, and enjoy it with a glass of this smoky red.
6. Teriyaki Pineapple Salmon
You can also pair Malbec with salmon because it offers a richer, fattier taste. Teriyaki pineapple salmon has a sweet and tangy mix thanks to the pineapple and soy sauce, making it well suited to the complexity of Malbec.
By now you’re likely eager to try out these Malbec wine and food pairings. We can help you pick the perfect Malbec to enjoy now, or even one you’ll enjoy after some cellar aging. Visit our online catalog to view our Malbec wine collection, or to discover another wine you love. You can also receive one-on-one assistance with JJ Buckley Fine Wines consultancy services.
What foods pair 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 appetizers go well with a Malbec wine? ›
- Steak bites are an obvious pairing when it comes to finger food. ...
- Salmon tartare is another superb choice. ...
- Lamb meatballs are a particularly good pairing. ...
- Spanish tapas are a good choice, particularly when chorizo is involved. ...
- Potato dishes are delectable with Malbec by their side.
What is a good malbec wine pairing? Malbecs love semi-hard cheeses that aren't too salty. Asiago, cheddar, Colby, and gouda are all excellent choices. Malbecs can also go up against a soft blue cheese.Does Malbec wine go with Italian food? ›
Malbec does pair well with food like leaner meats as well as many pasta dishes.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 Malbec 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 is the best way to serve Malbec? ›
Malbec wines are best served in a traditional red wine glass, slightly chilled, somewhere in the realm of 60-65 degrees.Is Malbec good with charcuterie? ›
Set up a charcuterie board with these fruits and a variety of cheeses. Once you've narrowed down your favorites, bring the cheeseboard back and pair them with your Malbec. Overall, Malbec's can sometimes be overlooked but, it's such a brilliant wine and a wonderful addition to be served alongside any cheeseboard.What pizza goes with Malbec? ›
Barbecue chicken pizza is sweet and smoky so you need to drink something fruity to balance that. That's why Malbec is the perfect drink with barbecue chicken pizza.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.
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.Does Malbec go with chicken? ›
Barbecuing chicken bumps the smoky flavors up, which makes it possible to pair with richer red wines like Zinfandel, Cabernet Franc or even BBQ's best friend, Malbec.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.Does Malbec go with pizza? ›
A Cab or Malbec will provide the right amount of bold richness to complement the savory pizza, while the higher tannins and acidity will also cut through the fattiness in the meat.Does Malbec go with burgers? ›
The flavor profile of Malbec seems to be the best fit for such a burger. The familiar black-fruit tones of Malbec ride a nice wave of acidity to cut through a burger's fat, but the complementary flavors of tobacco, graphite and even cocoa help to add dimension when paired with the flavors of sweet hickory smoke.Do you refrigerate Malbec? ›
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.Is Malbec similar to Pinot Noir? ›
Malbec is meatier, grittier, has more structure, whereas pinot noir is light, aromatic, and low in alcohol content. Malbec has a moderate to high tannin content whereas pinot noir is light on tannins, leading some to consider it a more accessible easy-drinking red.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.Does Malbec go with filet mignon? ›
Malbec is a great choice to accompany a more lean cut of steak, such as a filet or a flank steak. While you can eat Malbec with a fattier cut like ribeye, its richness may overwhelm the flavor of the meat. Some of the best Malbec wines come from Argentina.Should you 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.
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 serve 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.Do you refrigerate Malbec wine after opening? ›
The bottles should not be exposed to direct light, natural or artificial. Do not store Malbec in the fridge or in the freezer. Both are too cold and will spoil the wine. After opening it, drink Malbec within two or three days.How long does Malbec last once opened? ›
For fuller bodied reds such as Malbec or Shiraz, these can last nearer to 5 or 6 days due to the higher tannins and the slightly higher alcohol levels these varieties tend to have, which slow the ageing process.Does Malbec go with Greek food? ›
Moussaka Wine Pairing
Moussaka would also pair nicely with Malbec. Generally, Malbec is a great wine with Greek food.
Food Pairing with Malbec
However, unlike Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec doesn't have a super long finish (or as aggressive tannins), which means it will pair extremely well with leaner red meats, and even lighter cuts like dark meat turkey or roasted pork.
Artichokes are the most notoriously hard to pair, and leave even some of the best sommeliers shuddering. This one really upsets me, because there are few things more enjoyable in life than devouring artichokes' flowery green leaves on a long afternoon.Is Malbec fruity or dry? ›
Though not considered a sweet wine by any stretch of the imagination, Malbec is high on the red wine sweetness chart. This full-bodied red is often produced in warm climates, using highly ripe grapes. Malbec boasts fruity flavors, such as plum, blackberry, and vanilla.Does Malbec go with chili? ›
Malbec is often described as juicy and leafy. It has aromas of plum, dark berries, herbs and tobacco. Its moderate tannins and good structure make it an excellent wine to pair with chili con carne. The juiciness and the fruity aromas in the wine match perfectly with a spicy and flavorful dish like chili con carne.Which wine is best for weight loss? ›
The best wine for weight loss is dry wine like Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, and Merlot or a dry sparkling white wine. Sweet wines have significantly higher calorie and carb counts, which can leave you struggling to reach your healthy goals.
Which wine is best for brain? ›
Pinot noir: This is the healthiest red wine due to its high concentration of resveratrol, an antioxidant compound that lowers bad cholesterol and high blood pressure. Some studies also suggest that it can improve brain health, kill cancer cells, and increase insulin sensitivity.What red wine is best for sleep? ›
The highest levels of melatonin are found in the skins of the red grapes such as Nebbiolo, Croatina, Sangiovese, Merlot, Marzemino, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Barbera grapes. Cabernet Sauvignon has 75 times more melatonin than Cabernet Franc, while Nebbiolo has the highest melatonin content of them all.Does Malbec pair with salmon? ›
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.Does Malbec go with seafood? ›
Roasted salmon with touraine
Shellfish is a bit too delicate for Malbec. But a meaty finfish with intense flavors, like salmon or swordfish, is ideal with this wine. Roasted salmon with vegetables is an excellent pairing for a Malbec from the Loire.
Malbec & Fish
Fish is a trickier match with Malbec, but if you are going to pair them, aim for something grilled, smoked or barbecued like halibut or smoked eel. Malbec can handle fattier, fleshier fish too though, especially if in a fruity, sweet sauce. Try teriyaki salmon or grilled swordfish with a mango sauce.
Beef stew wine pairings
The dark fruit and rich tannin notes of full-bodied red wines stand up to the strong taste of the beef stew. Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon are terrific with beef's earthy taste.
If you're looking for one of Italy's greatest wines, look no further. Barolo wine is known for deep red colours, strong tannins and powerful acidic flavours. It's estimated that up to 18% of Italian households use Barolo wine to pair with EVERY special occasion dinner.What wine is best for Christmas dinner? ›
Oaked Chardonnay is one of the best options, as the time spent in oak barrels gives the wine a beautiful buttery nuance. The oak also imparts warm cooking spice flavours into the Chardonnay, which will complement the seasonings you've used in your Christmas roast wonderfully.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.Is Malbec bitter or sweet? ›
Produced in Cahors, the wine is leathery, with flavors of tart, black plum, and savory bitterness.
What is Malbec wine good for? ›
Malbec in a Nutshell
Malbec is a full-bodied red wine that originated in France but grows mostly in Argentina. While French Malbec is more savory and tart, with firm tannins and flavors of plum and leather, Argentinian Malbec is more fruit forward, with a velvet texture and flavors of cocoa and plum.
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.Do you refrigerate 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.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.