What kind of wine is Malbec?
Malbec is a thick-skinned black grape, it produces wines with high tannins, deep colour and full body.
Malbec wines are known for their fruit-forward, rich character, with notes of black fruits, such as blackberry, black plum and black cherries, and sometimes chocolate and violet.
It is often matured in oak, which helps to soften the hard tannins and achieve a “velvety” or “silky” texture. Oak does introduce those wonderful spicy flavours of cloves, cinnamon and vanilla. When aged in the bottle, very good and outstanding Malbecs will develop aromas of dried fruit and meat.
Malbec is most often used on its own to make single-varietal wines. It can also make great blends with other rich red varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot, or a more aromatic wine in combination with Torrontes, another famous white Argentinian grape (feel free to check out this Malbrontes wine: Malbec + Torrontes).
Example of an “outstanding” Malbec
aged for thirteen month in new French Oak
“The aromas of this wine are so wonderful…Medium to full body, very fine tannins and a fresh and clean finish. Drink or hold.” – 94/100 James Suckling
Where is Malbec from?
Malbec is native to southwest France, where it was known to produce “meaty” wines. Argentina is credited with starting a Renaissance of Malbec because when planted in drier climate at high altitudes Malbec develops less sugar and better acidity. The resulting wine in general is more juicy, aromatic and well-balanced.
Best Argentinian Malbecs come from high-altitude vineyards located between 1,000 and 1,500 metres above sea level in the province of Mendoza. It became perhaps the most famous terroir for Malbec in the world. (Click here if you are interested in wine from Mendoza.)
You can also find Malbec wine from Patagonia, which is a land a few hundred miles further down South from Mendoza with a very dry climate with cold nights. Because of that Patagonian wines demonstrate high acidity and refreshing flavours. (Click here if you are interested in wines from Patagonia.)
What food does Malbec pair with?
Feel free to check out those wonderful recipes below!
Malbec wine is best known for its perfect pairing with red meats: beef or lamb steaks, hamburgers and pork chops, well seasoned with spices and herbs. Greek lamb gyros with tzatziki sauce
While Malbec is not a good companion for fish, one exception to try can be tuna steak. Creamy Mushroom Tuna Steaks Recipe for Two
Cheese: try with melted Swiss cheese, gorgonzola, blue cheese, provolone.
Vegetarian and vegan dishes: vegan enchiladas, fried tofu, vegetarian chili, mushroom, roasted pepper, risotto.
Is Malbec a good wine?
Malbec can be a fabulous red wine, with fresh aromas of dark fruits: blackberry, black cherry, plum, and spice (mint, liquorice).
A good quality of any wine depends on the quality of the grapes and the organisation of winemaking process. In Argentina, highest quality Malbecs are produced in vineyards of Mendoza where thee country’s warm climate is moderated by the high altitude of the mountains. Argentina’s leading winemakers are very industrious and use the most modern brand-new equipment and high levels of automation.
The best way to check the quality of the wine you are about to buy is to see if it won any international awards or received a high score from a recognised independent expert. This is a way more reliable indication of quality rather than seller’s own recommendation, which can be biased. The best Malbec wines do regularly win Decanter Bronze, Silver and Gold medals and other prestigious awards, and score 90 points and above with top experts, so it is not hard to find an independent opinion on the quality of the Malbec wine which you are considering to buy.
Is Malbec dry or sweet?
The short answer is “Dry”. The Malbec grape typically produces full-bodied dry red wines, with a deep ruby colour, a high level of tannins and flavours of blackberry, black cherries and spices. Its levels of alcohol can range from 13% to 15% ABV, depending on the winemaker’s choice. Maturation in oak softens the hard tannins, makes the wine more drinkable and enjoyable and lends flavours of smoke, vanilla and cloves.
Should Malbec be chilled?
The still red Malbec wine should be served at room temperature, or about 15-18 °C. So if you are in a warm room the wine may be chilled for a little. If the wine has been sitting in the fridge and became too cold, it will “shrink” and its aromas and character will not be as pleasurable. Open the bottle, let it warm up to “decompress” for a while, and the aromas will return in full. You can warm the glass with your hands and smell how the pleasant scents awaken as the wine warms up.
Malbec rose should be served chilled, at 7-10 °C, and Sparkling Malbec “well-chilled”, or at 6-8 °C.