8 Malbec Secrets Revealed

malbec vines

For those of us who love red wine, Malbec needs to be in your wine repertoire for three reasons.

First, in my humble opinion, the name is so cool! I love the name.  I love saying it. It makes you sound like you know something about wine just by saying the name.

Second, if you like Syrah, or a bold Cabernet Sauvignon, then you're going to like Malbec - truth.

Third, Malbec has secrets or interesting facts that's not readily available to the everyday person.

Here are 8 Malbec secrets revealed that I find very fascinating and will make you sound like a wine god if you actually remember them:

1. Maybe the most famous red wine on the American market today

Though historically Malbec has been around a very long time, it's popularity is now so great one can’t think of a time when the wine wasn’t everywhere, but its growth in popularity is actually very recent.

2. Malbec hates its region where it was born

Malbec was born in France where it was primarily used as a blending grape in the country’s famous Bordeaux blend. BUT… it was miserable there. It was susceptible to rot and disease. Malbec's roots did not respond well to the French climate and rotted easily. The winemaker could quickly lose an entire crop before harvest. That sucks!

3. Argentina ‘Saved’ Malbec

Argentina took cuttings from France in mid-19th century and now is the Malbec king with over 75% of all the acres of Malbec in the world! Yep, Argentina saved Malbec and made it one of the top 18 noble grapes. Thank you, Argentina.

4. Malbec ran away to other better places

Malbec prefers hot regions, not the wimpy climate of the Bordeaux region. Malbec needs a wide diurnal temperature shift (i.e. hot days, cold nights) that makes the grapes produce more acidity. Guess what? It loves California's warm wine regions like Paso Robles. A reason Argentina is a place it loves, with its high altitude and hot days and cool nights.

5. No long aged oak needed to make it bold

You might believe Malbec’s bold flavors and richness is the use of oak. Not true! Great Malbec can be aged for 6 months in oak. 10-12 months in oak Malbec will give it that classic ‘blueberry’ smell.

6. It plays well with others

Malbec loves to blend with other great red wines, especially wines with naturally high in tannins and/or acidity. Cabernet Sauvignon is a great blending buddy.

7. Food Pairing - it is not your Cabernet Sauvignon

Malbec doesn’t have a super long finish. Because of this, Malbec is great with dark poultry and leaner red meats (we're talking ostrich here). It’s a great wine with rustic flavors like mushrooms and cumin spice and funky flavors like blue cheese. A salad pairing wine?

8. Malbec is the "regular people" wine

There are three reasons Malbec appeals to "regular people" and the same reasons it may not appeal to sommeliers.

Three reasons Malbec appeals to "regular people"

(1) It's not expensive or hard to find. Thank you, Argentina.

(2) The wine's flavors are upfront, with notes of spice and red berry fruit.

(3) Great Malbecs also have a lively acidity and approachable tannins. Think of it as a meatier, bolder version of Merlot.


Randall Farrar
Randall Farrar

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