Argentine Malbec seems to be ubiquitous these days. For the past decade or so, this easy-drinking red has conquered wine bars and liquor stores, capturing the imagination of consumers thirsty for bold, consistently well-made wines without the price tag to match.
And that’s just part of the reason for its success.
Medium to full-bodied, rich in fruit flavors and lacking the intimidating tannic structure of a classic Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec is an accessible wine which can enjoyed by amateurs and connoisseurs alike.
To top it all off, Malbec is just as flexible when it comes to food pairing as it is easy to drink.
Salads and Appetizers
Unlike other bold red wines, Malbec offers a tasty pairing option to blue cheese and other strong-flavored, soft cheeses. Take advantage of this in true Argentine style, and pair with a shared selection of cheeses and cured meats as an appetizer or picada.
Alternatively, for a lighter option, enjoy alongside a simple salad with light blue cheese dressing. In this instance, take care to avoid bitter salad leaves, such as radicchio or endive, as they magnify the slight bitterness present in all red wines.
It may come as a surprise to learn that Malbec can be successfully paired with fish. Granted, the options aren’t extensive, but Malbec’s mild tannins are a great match to grilled, thick-fleshed fish. Tuna straight from the barbecue being the pick of the bunch.
Feeling adventurous or looking to explore other Malbec and fish pairings? Avoid pairing with oily or overly ‘fishy’ fish, such as tinned sardines, as this pairing can make the wine taste like the tin can from which the fish was served.
It wouldn’t be controversial to point out that chicken is located towards the neutral end of the flavor scale. Cooked simply, it’s flavor disappears alongside bold Malbec.
A transformation occurs, however, with the addition of some simple herbs (think rosemary, sage and thyme) and after roasting whole in the oven. The rich, slow-roasted herb aromas compliment the earthiness of the wine, offering an ideal Sunday pairing. The dark leg and thigh meat work especially well and present a pairing worth falling out with the family over.
As a medium to full-bodied red wine, Malbec pairs best with meat. Leaner cuts in particular and even pork are a great match with Malbec, owing to its mild tannins and relatively short finish.
When it comes to cooking leaner cuts, short cooking times at high temperatures are the best way to avoid drying out meat. Grilling is a really effective method of doing this, with the added bonus of imparting an attractive smoky flavor to the meat.
As for choosing which meat to cook, steak is the the obvious option. And with good reason. There really is nothing quite like an Argentine Malbec with a charred, juicy, slab of beef. Lamb and Pork really should not to be ignored, however, with both of their respective loins and chops providing exquisite and worthy alternatives.
Too much talk of meat, or simply looking for something to keep you warm during those colder months?
Malbec also pairs perfectly with rich tomato sauce-based pasta dishes. Younger Malbecs, which are less likely to have seen oak during vinification (and are much more likely to be affordably priced!), compliment the acidity and slight sweetness of a classic Italian tomato sauce.
As with chicken, adding a few herbs and roasting can really enhance a vegetarian main course and the dish’s harmony with Malbec.
Stuffed peppers, with mediterranean vegetables, chickpeas and a hard white cheese, are infinitely better with the addition of sage and rosemary. The key to success with this style of dish is roasting the vegetables really well, making sure to achieve good coloration. Not only does this enhance the vegetables’ texture, this type of caramelization brings out natural sugars, enhancing both flavor and compatibility with bold red wines, such as Malbec.
Other Argentinian Wines
Tried all of the combinations on this list? Why not explore some of the other wonderful wines Argentina has to offer, including:
Bonarda: Argentina’s second most widely planted red grape, this wine offers an equally extensive selection of food pairings as Malbec. Grilled meats and fish are the best of them all.
Syrah: Typically hailing from the hottest regions of the country, Argentine Syrah is full bodied and displays the perfect mix of fruit and spice note. Pair with slow cooked, barbecued meats like pulled pork or roasted leg of lamb.
Torrontés: The fruity, floral nature of Argentina’s only native grape make it the ideal companion to a fragrant Thai salad or a creamy, aromatic Indian curry. Avoid pairing with dishes that are excessively spicy, however, as Torrontés’ ever-so-slightly bitter aftertaste clashes with extreme heat.