The Essential Guide to Malbec Food Pairing

Mmmmmmm…Malbec. Big, bold and spicy. This grape variety is a favorite of wine connoisseurs and is classically known to be a great partner with an assortment of lean meats. Check out some of our favorite Malbec food pairing recipes below.

Learn About Malbec Food Pairings

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Malbec’s Origins

Malbec has received an extensive amount of notoriety in the past 15 years. It’s most commonly associated with the Mendoza region of Argentina after a French engineer brought vines back from France in the late 1860s.

Malbec is actually an approved grape variety for some of the most delicious Bordeaux red blends. While its use in the region has been extensive (but typically not a dominant variety), it has classically been associated with the region of Cahors when it comes to France. The variety has historically thrived there. Malbec’s from Cahors tend to be much more tannic, as is evident by the chewy texture, raisin-esque flavors and astringent feel noticeable on the palate.

It’s important to note that Malbec from Argentina – which is a New World wine region – tends to be somewhat less tannic than those found in Southwestern France – and Old World wine region. These New World versions are often lower in acidity, juicy and full of blackberry nuances.


RELATED: Learn All About the Malbec Grape Variety


If you do come across a varietal Malbec from Cahors, consider using fattier meats as food pairing options. If the variety has come from Argentina, try pairing it with leaner meats.

Despite its tannic content, Malbec food pairings don’t have to be solely meat-based. This grape variety has unique dark plum and cassis fruit notes, making it ideal to pair with some more savory dark meat poultry and pork. Without further ado, let’s get specific with Malbec food pairing concepts.

Malbec Wine & Food Pairing Guide | Winetraveler.com

Pairing Malbec Wine with Steak | Winetraveler.com

 

Malbec Food Pairings & Recipes

Malbec is typically quite full-bodied, inky and contains medium-high tannins. Some Malbecs not only pack black & blue fruit notes, but it can be surprisingly spicy, smoky and even have leather-esque nuances. This flavor complexity allows for an equally complex blend of food pairing options. These can range from pork loin, St. Louis pork ribs, Cuban-styled lechon, lean brisket, duck to dark turkey meat.


RELATED: 5 Top Wineries in Argentina You Should Visit


You can even pair Malbec with fish. Yes, you heard that correctly. Richer-bodied, fatty fish with bold flavors work surprisingly well. Think along the lines of grilled or blackened salmon, bluefish and swordfish.


Pairing Malbec with Appetizers

Let’s look at a few delicious appetizers that are easy to put together. Click through for the complete recipe!

Try this Spicy Tomatillo Risotto Appetizer

Barbecue Drizzled Brisket Shoots

Salmon Tartar Appetizer with Cilantro

Imported Tapas – Spanish Chorizo (pack of 4)

Spanish Jamon Serrano, Imported (Pair with Manchego!)

Black Pepper Skillet Steak Bites

Buttery-Garlic, Parsley & Ground Pepper Shrimp Appetizer

Baked Teriyaki Duck Sauce Salmon Bites

Greek-Styled Creamy Lamb Meatball Bites

Malbec Pairing Guide | Tacos & Malbec Wine | Winetraveler.com

Malbec Wine Pairing Ideas - Meatball Appetizers | Winetraveler.com


Best Malbec Meat Food Pairings

Again, Malbec is a richly flavored wine so it should be paired alongside foods with depth.  Imagine dark, juicy berries coated in herbaceous, forests nuances and topped with crack black pepper. Given the spice and juiciness, we’ve included some ethnic foods below along with some interesting take on traditional American styling.

Mexican ‘Machaca’ Slow-Cooked Braised Brisket Tostadas

Spicy Malbec-marinated Skirt Steak

Mojo and White Onion Carne Asada Tacos

Cuban-Styled Lechon Asado (Roasted Pork) A+++

Garlic & Jalapeno Bison Burger Recipe

Grilled Sirloin Steak with Mushroom Cream Sauce

Pesto Pepper Steak Sandwich Recipe

Norwegian Meatballs with Spicy Cream Sauce


Poultry Pairings

Pairing Malbec with poultry is a great secondary option if meat isn’t your thing. There are plenty of flavorful poultry dishes and sides that can easily contribute and build upon the flavors present in both New World and Old World Malbecs.

Indian-Styled Butter Chicken Burritos

Honey-Smoked Turkey Recipe (emphasis on the dark meat with Malbec)

Leftover Turkey Tacos Carnitas

Spicy Hungarian Paprika, Jalapeno Chicken Burgers

Garlic, Honey & Malbec-Marinated Savory Smoked Duck


Pairing Malbec with Fish

If you’re like me and fish is your favorite kind of food, you’ll be happy to know that there are some phenomenal recipes out there that pair as well, if not better, than many steak and poultry dishes out there.

Swordfish Steak with Mango-chutney and Curried Lentils

Argentinean-Style Grilled Swordfish with Spicy-Orange Chimichurri

Pineapple Teriyaki Salmon with an Orange-zest 

Barbecue Halibut Steak with Garlic-cloves and Brown Sugar

Grilled Halibut with Cilantro and Garlic Recipe

 

Malbec Wine and Cheese Pairings | Winetraveler.com


Malbec Cheese Pairings

When it comes to cheese here, go sharp. Don’t be afraid to let that funk hit your nostrils. Many Malbec’s are not only spicy, but they can come with a wide assortment of herbaceous aromas and savory flavors.

Manchego Reserve Extra Aged Gouda

English Farmhouse Cheddar

Hickory and Maple Smoked Vermont Cheddar

Shropshire Blue Cheese

Maytag Blue Cheese (1 pound) by Gourmet-Food


Calories in Malbec

Chances are if you’re drinking Malbec you’re probably not counting calories, given that most of these recipes are more flavor-focused than anything. In any case, one 5 ounce glass of Malbec will typically run you about 125 calories. Somewhat insignificant, given that you’re probably going to be having more than one glass :).

Also worth noting is how polyphenol-rich Malbec is. This wine is loaded with antioxidants – noticeable at first glance due to the dark purple inky hue present in and around your wine glass. In short, don’t be afraid to have a glass and forget the caloric content, Malbec is actually quite healthy in moderation.


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Greig Santos-Buch is a Co-Founder at Winetraveler, WSET II Merit wine thought-provoker and off-the-beaten-path outdoorsman. He first became involved with wine traveling after a month-long solo trip to Spain about 10 years ago, planning the trip almost exclusively around the gastronomic scene of the country. Ever since that particular trip abroad, he developed a passion for traveling and making wine tourism the core driver behind where he ends up. This has since led him to exciting destinations including the Czech Republic, to Austria, Germany, Switzerland, France, Italy, Portugal, California, Washington State, Canada and beyond. His primary aim through Winetraveler is to expose this style of travel to the world and make it accessible to everyone.

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