Originating from the Bordeaux region of France, the Malbec is among the "big six" for red wine grapes. However, with the exception of in Cahors, its fame and fortune in France often end there, as Malbec is generally a grape used for blending, with very little vine being devoted to its improvement or success.
The story in Argentina is quite the opposite. Malbec has found fame and glory in the sun-drenched climate of South America's southernmost country. This is Argentina's signature grape, and it is quickly gaining a lofty status for itself with red wine lovers. While South Africa, Australia, Chile, and the United States also successfully grow Malbec grapes, the output from those nations is nowhere near the same capacity as Argentina's Malbecs.
Malbec Flavor Profile
Malbec is typically a medium to full-bodied, dry red wine with plenty of acidity and relatively high tannin and alcohol levels. Dark, inky purple color profiles and ripe flavors of plums, black cherry, and blackberry can give this wine a decidedly jammy character.
Malbec is typically sold as a dry, red wine varietal and labeled as such, although it is also found in blends (often to add color), as a rosé, and even sparkling and dessert Malbecs can be found with a little effort.
Malbec Food Pairings
Definitely a red-meat wine, Malbec is versatile enough to stand up to spicy Mexican, Cajun, Indian, Thai, or Italian fare, with preference given to barbecue, spices and sometimes hard to pair meat-driven dishes.
Malbec wine is not as heavy as Cabernet or as sweet as Chianti, but it's definitely robust enough to match with the heartiest of dishes. It even pairs well with some heartier fish entrees, such as swordfish, tuna steaks, or salmon. Consider giving Malbec a go with any of your favorite beef, game, lamb, chili, stews, mushrooms, sausage and barbecue sauces.
Do I Need Special Malbec Glasses?
While a red wine glass will be more than adequate, you can show off your good taste with a special Malbec glass, designed to show off the wine's distinctive qualities. The Malbec glass, introduced in 2013, features a wide bowl and a smaller rim.
In all honesty, however, a special glass for Malbec is mostly for show. Any glass with a full bowl will allow you to enjoy its richness. It won't taste as good in a Champagne flute or regular water glass.
One thing to remember: Serve your Malbec at slightly below room temperature. If you don't have a wine refrigerator, don't sweat it. Just put your bottle in your fridge for about half an hour, uncork it, serve and savor.
Key Malbec Producers to Try
Many wineries make delicious, wallet-friendly Malbec wines that are distributed worldwide. With a reputation for providing exceptional quality to price ratios, this red wine varietal is on the rise in international markets, but the U.S. is by far the No. 1 Malbec importer.
Malbec makers include some internationally recognized wineries, including: