I love Malbec, the ones from France as well as from Argentina.It really is a delicious wine but Argentina is the place where Malbec really came into its own and gained worldwide popularity.
Malbec is a deep-purple-coloured wine with high alcohol level, and smooth, velvety texture. It is a fruit-forward wine with flavours of blackberry, plum, and black cherry along with hints of vanilla and sweet tobacco (depending on the oak ageing).
This iconic grape variety of Mendoza, Argentina hails originally from the south-west part of France.
In France, where it is traditionally called ‘Côt’ or ‘Auxxerois’, Malbec has higher acidity with flavours of black pepper and spice along with black fruits.
Cahors is the main Malbec region in France where it is blended with Tannat and/or Merlot but the final blend must contain at least 70% of Malbec.
Although French and Argentinian Malbecs are very different, both countries make approachable yet well-structured wines. A French Malbec tends to be more tannic, while Malbecs from Argentina are fruity and jammy.
Given its soft tannins and smooth texture, Malbec needs little ageing in oak, between 4-20 months, and hence offers great quality, value wines.
Even though it is a full-body, bold wine, I personally like it without heavy food and served slightly cooler.
The big bold flavours of Malbec make it an obvious choice for full flavour sauces or meat dishes. A French Malbec is best-suited for steaks but a Malbec from Argentina has smoother tannins and velvety finish which pairs well with herbed cheese, mushrooms and lean meats, too.
A charcuterie board is my favourite go-to option with Malbec. Here are the food pairing recommendations:
1. Meats or vegetables with BBQ sauce. Malbec holds the sweet and spicy barbeque sauce well and hence makes for a great pairing for BBQ food.
2. Mushroom-stuffed peppers. The earthiness of the mushrooms and the slight spice from the peppers compliment this wine.
3. Herbed cheese. Also goes well with Goat cheese. The pungent, soft and flavourful cheeses match the soft finish and texture of the wine.
4. Fajitas. This Tex Mex dish can be made using meats or vegetables. It is the spices that pair well with a Malbec.