Let’s take it back to the classics, and what is better than a smooth Malbec?
Malbec originated in France, as many of the most popular grapes did, as a blending wine, but a majority of Malbec is now grown in Argentina, as well as some parts of Chile and even in the western regions of the United States.
Although it has been around for centuries, Malbec was very susceptible to rot and disease, which meant it didn’t make it very far outside of France for a very long time, unlike its other red wine peers like Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. Argentina is said to have “saved Malbec” because of its mass production (over 75% of the world’s Malbec acres) and export of the wine, part of which is due to the impact on the American markets in the early 2000s.
The reasons Malbec is so popular in the southwest regions of France and in Argentina are because it needs more sun and heat than other red grapes, and therefore must be planted in hotter climates.
French Malbec is leathery and slightly bitter with flavors of black plum and tart currant, while Argentine Malbec has nuanced flavors of chocolate and coffee on top of the black fruit notes. This delicious red has a deep, inky, almost purple color with high levels of acidity and tannins, and is usually accompanied by spicy aromas such as tobacco and pepper.
The acidic, tannic quality of the Malbec paired with the spicy rich flavors make this a perfect pairing with red meat, but leaner red meats. It doesn’t have a long finish like a Cabernet Sauvignon so it’s not going to complement that beefy steak as well as you hope. If you want to really help it shine, pair it with something a little funky like blue cheese or mushrooms.
Fun fact: Malbec actually has a very telling magenta rim that stands out against its very dark, purple color.
Because of the deep color and intensity, Malbec is very popular in blended wines, commonly being mixed with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot to create the red French Bordeaux claret blend. In Argentina, Malbec tends to be blended with Bonarda, a regional red grape from Italy.
The great thing about a Malbec is the quality is comparable to the price. You can find a fantastic bottle of Malbec without having to break the bank like you might with a Cab or a Merlot. The rich texture makes it a perfect wine for these cold winter nights!