Learn Your Wine: Malbec

By Betchy Crocker

Once again it’s wine o’clock. This week we’ll head to South America for an in depth look at Malbec.


Referred to as the “flagship red grape” of Argentina, the humble Malbec grape started out as a shitty sidekick, blending grape, and less hot version of other grapes in Bordeaux.  Because it was so super sensitive like Becky from art class (like having no resistance to weather or pests), it couldn’t really move up in the great grape world in France. However, in 1868 when this French botanical guy brought the grape to Mendoza, Argentina, it found a new home.

Types and tastes

Sooo depending where it’s grown and how old it is, Malbec can have some different tastes. Usually, Malbec is pretty straightforward in that it’s a medium to full-bodied dry red wine. It’s fairly acidic with higher alcohol (YAY) and tannin levels. Things you’ll taste include:

  • Fruit: You’re going to get a lot of blackberry, blueberry, and black raspberry. If the grapes were grown in a cooler climate, you’ll get more black cherry. A warmer climate will bring out more of the blackberry.
  • Dependent on oak aging: You may get hints of chocolate, violet, leather, and tobacco in a more expensive Malbec.
  • As a note, Malbec grown in Argentina will be more fruit forward, whereas the few that are grown in France will be more leathery (ew) and have a sort of savory bitter taste.

Drink with

Malbec is like, really good in terms of being adaptable. It can stand up well to a lot of ethnic food like Mexican, Cajun, Indian, Thai, and even Italian. It also pairs really well with meat dishes of the leaner variety, so those of you eating ostrich and bison on the reg are in luck.

  • For cheese, pair Malbec with something pungent and soft (also like Becky from art class). A great blue cheese would be lovely here.
  • Barbeque fucking loves Malbec, so if you happen upon an upscale barbeque or smoked meat joint, order this Argentinian drank.
  • For spices, look for pairings with earthy and smoky shit, like parsley, sumac, smoked paprika, pepper, cumin, cloves, and vanilla.

For a good and always cheap Malbec, go with Alamos or Catena. You’re so cultured now.




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