Wines that rock: Malbec

Argentina, a land with which I have much in common. Their love of football (soccer), perfectly grilled red meat, a mistress like love affair with rugby, and a sincere disliking of Margaret Thatcher. All things that make me compatible with the country, and yet I was never really drawn to it. We just never got along. That is until I discovered their love for wine, and in particular the wine that put Argentinean winemakers on the map: Malbec. This is our ultimate wine guide and tribute.

Where exactly I had my first glass of Malbec I cannot remember, but it has popped up in so many places since that I could not help but really get to know this wine and know it well. I live in South America for a while, and whenever I went to a party there were two Argentinean mainstays, Malbec and Soda Stereo. As the Malbec flowed, Gustavo Cerati’s vocals would become increasingly drowned out by that of his audience. Much like the Malbec, there was nothing like Soda Stereo to bring people together.

In places like Peru and Colombia, where the wine industry is microscopic at best, Argentinean and Chilean wines reign supreme. You feel obliged to drink South American wines, but it is not a bad thing at all. South American wines are very good, and often very agreeable in price. South American people are also very social, extremely friendly, and extremely passionate. It all makes for a great wine drinking environment whether that be Argentinean wine, Uruguayan wine, or Chilean wine. If beer made you part of the party, wine brought you closer to the people, cementing friendships because it was often drunk in smaller social circles.

Malbec is the perfect example of cementing friendships. It is accessible, in location, and price, like a good friend should be, never asking too much of you. Malbec is also a pleaser, it’s broad appeal makes it ready for almost any occasion, like a good friend who is ready for anything at a moment’s notice. Simply put, a bottle (or case) of Malbec in cellar, or in your wine rack, is ready to go for any occasion. It is the ultimate occasional wine. Dress it up and it is great for a hearty meal entertaining friends with a wine that impresses, dress it down and Malbec’s jeans and t-shirt style is great for a summer BBQ.

What allows Malbec to be a jack of all trades is its fairly balanced nature. It is a full bodied wine that is smooth to drink, with great fruit flavors, and often some aromas of dark chocolate, leather, and a smoky, tobacco flavor if aged well. Though you do have to be pretty discerning about where you are getting your Malbec from. The wine’s versatility masks the grape’s feeble nature and struggles with climates even slightly out of its comfort zone. Malbec is grown virtually everywhere, but it is said the troublesome grape was saved by Argentina and they should be praised and rewarded for doing so?

So what should I be looking for when buying Malbec wine? Some tricks and tips when selecting the perfect Malbec

  1. Malbec is grown around the world, but high altitude environments allow the grape to make truly great wine. Look for Malbecs that come from Mendoza in Argentina, almost a sure thing when you want something good.

  2. Younger Malbecs make great friends for big parties when you need to buy a lot of wine, price is an issue, and you think you might get in a few more glasses than usual without it being overwhelming.

  3. Look for “Reserva” Malbecs for special occasions.

  4. Pairs great with meat, hard cheese, and tomato sauce based pasta dishes.

  5. Do not be put off by the low prices, it has a lot to do with economics. Some fantastic Malbecs from Argentina, even Mendoza, and also Chiel fall in the $10 to $20 range.

  6. Malbec is often hidden in the wine store, don't be afraid to look at lower shelves or in corners. Your little wine adventure will pay dividends!

Keep these tips in mind and you will be rewarded for your wine endeavors. It really is easy to find a good Malbec, while patience and curiosity will pay off with great Malbec.

Wines that Rock is Vynl's ultimate guide to wines from around the world, helping you explore some of the most amazing wines you may may never have heard of. Our wine guide is here to help you find the right wines for the right moments and occasions. The Vynl wine guide is here to show you the way, teach you a bit more about wines, regions, and grapes, and let you plan your very own wine adventure. Wine is meant to grab your heart, so let us help you find a wine that rocks!