Ultimate Malbec Food Pairing Guide [20 Divine Food Pairings]
Malbec, known for its velvety tannins and voluptuous dark fruit flavor, has nearly all the makings for an excellent pairing wine.
Its moderate acidity and full mouthfeel allow it to stand up to richly flavored dishes without overpowering.
This guide covers everything you need to know about curating the perfect food pairing with Malbec.
With tasting notes, regional differences, pairing tips, and tons of recommendations, we’ve got you covered!
What Does Malbec Taste Like?
Before moving into the best foods to pair with Malbec, we must first understand what we’re dealing with.
Malbec is a dry red wine, typically medium to full in body, low to medium in acidity, and has moderate tannins. It is most notably grown in Argentina, having originated in France. Since it grows in cool and warm climates, it has an eclectic flavor profile.
When grown in warm climates, it exudes plush flavors of black cherry, plum, leather, and black pepper. In cooler climates, it is somewhat reserved, with bright red fruit flavors of raspberry and red cherry.
Malbec is typically oaked for a short period, as too long in the barrel leads to an unappealing bitterness. Subtle oak rounds out the sharp young flavors of Malbec and imparts light spice notes.
Over 70% of all Malbec comes from Argentina, with the best examples coming from the warmer climate of Mendoza. Here, Malbec is known for its inky color and vibrant fruit flavors.
Expect Argentinian Malbec to emphasize dark fruit flavors of blackberry, fig, and black plum, with less flavor imparted from oak.
Despite Malbec’s increasing popularity in Argentina, it originally began as a building block of Bordeaux blends.
Today, due to the region's maritime climate, it has been reduced to a minor grape in the region. However, the region of Cahors in France still produces its fair share of this grape, which they refer to by its ancestral name, Côt.
In Cahors, Malbec can be expected to have more bright red fruit flavors of raspberry, red plum, and black pepper.
Malbec in this region typically benefits from extended oak aging, which rounds out the wine's sharp flavors and makes for a smoother and softer wine.
How to Pair Malbec
Wine pairing is supposed to be fun, and Malbec makes it easy. With big, bold fruit flavors and moderate acidity, this highly versatile wine works well with all sorts of dishes.
Factors to Consider When Pairing Food With Malbec
Malbec is typically low to medium in acidity and moderate in tannins. These two factors make pairing this wine with fatty and richly-flavored dishes less than ideal.
The reasoning is that high-fat dishes such as pork belly or ribeye benefit from high acid and highly tannic wines to cut through those rich flavors and textures.
Malbec is best paired with lean meats that are not overly rich, such as skirt steak, lamb, venison, or poultry.
In addition, Malbec’s higher alcohol levels make it unsuitable for pairing with spicy dishes, such as harissa or Vindaloo, as these will accentuate the spice in the dish as opposed to alleviate it.
The Best Food to Pair with Malbec
Now that we’ve covered the best dishes to avoid when pairing with Malbec, it’s time for some good news! Malbec is a wonderfully versatile wine that enhances all sorts of dishes.
Here are some mighty food pairings for when Malbec is on the menu!
Malbec Meat Dish Pairings
Malbec Vegetarian Dish Pairings
Malbec Appetizer Pairings
Malbec and Cheese Pairings
Malbec and Snack Pairings
Do you have any special Malbec food pairings? Share them down below and let the world know!