Malbec & Food Pairings


For centuries, Malbec has been a grape used to make Bordeaux, as well as Cahors.  However, in the past decade, Malbec has gained notoriety in Argentina as a remarkable red wine.

Similar to Merlot, Malbec is a dark and medium to full-bodied red wine with essences of blackberries, cherries and licorice.  An aged Malbec may have a  mineral or earthy quality, such as summer rain on a dirt road.

A bottle of Malbec in the $12 – 25 dollar range (at the store, not on a wine list where bottles are marked up two to four times their cost) are young wines that haven’t seen much oak. They come off as smooth and juicy wines bursting with fruit flavours.

Between $25 – $50, you’ll find a wine that is aged longer in oak and brings out velvety chocolate flavours.

At $50 and upward, expect an exceptional Malbec where specific grapes are handpicked, and then aged in French Oak for two years. Expect dark fruit flavours, chewy tannin, and a smooth chocolatey finish.

Malbec and Food

This wine’s smoky and berry-chocolate bouquet makes it perfect for a charbroiled steak, game meats, beef stew, cabbage rolls, meatloaf, wildboar, short ribs, hamburgers, and anything grilled.  If you are vegan, this wine is amazing with portobello mushrooms or bean dishes.

Our Favourite Pairings Include

Pork Chops with Mint Jelly


An Argentinian Malbec works well with Lamb on its own, or even better with Lamb accompanied by mint and herbs. Malbec from Argentina have an herbaceous quality that will pair up with any herbs you use in your Lamb dish, especially Rosemary and Sage and Juniper. While mint does not complement a Malbec, it does make the wine taste more complex making this pairing fascinating.

Malbec and Mushrooms


Malbec craves the earthy flavours of mushroom, and will go well with any dish where Mushroom is a dominant flavour. Our favourite would be a slow cooked lamb shank in a crockpot with a medley of mushrooms, rosemary and basil paired with a Cahors (which is a Malbec dominant French wine).

Lean Roast Beef and Horseradish


Malbec has softer tannin compared to Merlot, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon which makes Malbec a wonderful with a trim cut of Roast Beef (Fattier cuts of meat enjoy heavier tannin). The herbacous notes in the wine only add to this pairing. Malbec has enough fruit to connter the spiciness of the horseradish.

Hamburgers topped with Blue Cheese, Roasted Peppers, Grilled Onions or Mushrooms


Malbec is a wine that loves pugnet soft cheeses like Blue Cheese, or Gorgonzola. The spicey notes of a Malbec will stand up to the robust flavour grilled onions and Mushrooms that you slap on your burger. On the nose, Malbec has a faint red pepper aroma which can really amp up this pairing.

Malbec does better with leaner cuts of meat, so choose a leaner style of hamburger or swap out the beef for leaner fare like Elk or Bison. Even better, if you’re feeling vegan, swap out the meat for a grilled Portobello Mushroom.

Cabbage Rolls or Stuffed Cabbage


Being low in tannin, Malbec will pair up nicely with any tomato sauce in your Cabbage Rolls. The bright and fruitier wine will also hold to the meat, rice and cabbage. On the tail end, you have those herbal wine notes in Malbec bringing even more tastiness to the party.

Cabbage Rolls are also referred to as Stuffed Cabbage, Galumpkis or Golabki (in Poland).

Foods to Avoid with Malbec

Malbec is not very friendly with Salad, particularly a leafy green salad with a vinaigrette. The acidity in the salad dressing makes the wine taste flat, while the bitterness in any green leaves like arugula or kale make the wine taste more bitter.

Malbec and fish is generally not a great pairing either. You might get away with this pairing with meatier fish like Grouper or Salmon, but fishier tasting fish make Malbec taste like tin.

Notable Producers of Malbec

Several great producers are Almos, BenMarco, Susana Balbo, Bodegas Esmeralda, Catena, Luca, Trapiche and Fantelli

 

Do you have a favourite Malbec and Food Pairing? Let us know in the comments below!

 

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