Malbec Wine: An Old World Classic & a New World Rock Star

This traditional French wine grape went from classic to modern thanks to the heat and elevation in Mendoza, Argentina.

Published May 30, 2023
malbec wine and vineyard

When you stare into the inky, brooding depths of a glass of malbec, even before that first sip, you'll realize that this isn't going to be your typical red wine tasting experience. The deep purple wine is a richly colored flavor bomb that holds its own with savory meaty foods like beef, venison, or lamb, spicy foods like steak au poivre, fatty fish like salmon, or rich sauces like a mushroom cream sauce. So if you're ready to expand your palate with an exciting, jammy wine, then take a sip of malbec. It'll be a wine revelation.

What Is Malbec Wine?

Malbec wine is a deep purple, richly flavored dry red wine that's popular throughout the world. Malbec red wine grapes originated in France and are blended into classic red Bordeaux wines. But in spite of their Old World roots, Malbec grapes have become New World rock stars as a single varietal or blended red wine grape. Malbec wines have come out of their classic shells thanks to the high altitude and hot weather in Mendoza, Argentina. There, growers cultivate grapes that produce wines with deeply concentrated flavors. The result is a powerhouse red wine that continues to grow in popularity around the world. With Argentina's winemakers leading the way, vintners around the world have discovered just how expressive malbec can be, leading to a worldwide explosion in popularity.


Malbec wine is pronounced maal-bek.

Malbec Wine Regions

Most of the world's malbec is grown in Argentina and Chile, which are warm climates. In France, the malbec is a cooler climate wine. Other regions that grow Malbec include:

  • United States
  • South Africa
  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • Spain
  • Italy

Malbec Flavor Profile

What does malbec taste like? Malbec tasting notes vary depending on whether it's grown in a cool climate or a warm one.

Cool Climate Malbec Flavors

The malbec tasting note for wine produced from grapes grown in cooler temperatures include:

mineral tart savory
black currant earthy black cherry
raspberry black pepper tobacco

Warm Climate Malbec Tasting Notes

Flavor profiles for malbec wines produced in warm regions include:

rich plummy smoky
fruit-forward cherry blackberry
cocoa powder jammy floral

Is Malbec Dry or Sweet?

Malbec from both climates is a dry wine, although malbec from warmer climates like Argentina tends to be slightly sweeter than malbec from cooler climates like France.

Malbec Body

Malbec is a full-bodied wine, both from cool and warm climates.

Tannins in Malbec

Malbec is a medium-tannins wine. The wines from warm weather regions tend to be slightly higher in tannins that those from cool weather regions.

Malbec's Acidity

Malbec is a low- to medium-acidity wine. French malbec has higher acidity than Argentinian malbec.

Nutrition and Handling

To enjoy malbec to its full potential, store it correctly and serve it at the right temperature. Here are the stats for malbec.

Malbec Calories

Malbec has 135 calories per 5-ounce pour.

Carbs in Malbec

Malbec is a dry wine, so it is low in carbohydrates. A standard 5-ounce pour of malbec has carb counts ranging from about 4.5g to 5.5g.


Malbec's alcohol content varies by region, with warm weather malbec having a higher ABV than cool weather malbec. Generally, malbec's alcohol content ranges from 13.5% to about 15.5%.

Should Malbec Be Chilled?

Malbec tastes its best at slightly cooler than room temperature - between 60°F and 65°F. About 30 minutes in the fridge before serving will get you there. Some people like to chill their malbec to an even cooler temp, but the colder the wine, the less vivid the flavors. Grab two affordable bottles of the same malbec and try them at different temps to see which you prefer.

Best Malbec Wine Glass

standard red wine glass

You can serve malbec in a standard red wine glass - the one where the widest part of the bowl is only slightly wider than or the same size as the rim. You don't need a glass with a bigger bowl or wider opening. The smaller rim helps keep the alcohol burn from hitting your nose quickly, and the shape delivers the spices to your palate perfectly.

Does Malbec Need to Breathe?

Because of the level of tannins, malbec can definitely benefit from decanting. Whether you pour it into a decanter or pour it into glasses to increase the surface area let it rest for 30 minutes or so before serving. If you're in a hurry, go ahead and drink it straight from the bottle, just give it several good swirls in the glass as you sip.

How Long Does Malbec Age?

Malbec almost always benefits from a little age thanks to its tannins. Store malbec away from light and vibration on its side at a steady temperature of around 55°F, and it'll last for anywhere from 6 to 10 years.

Should You Drink Malbec Wine?

Yes! Malbec is an extremely accessible wine - its bold, lively, fruity flavors are like a party in your mouth. If you're unsure, start with an Argentinian malbec, which will have electric jammy, fruity flavors you're sure to love. And with Malbec's superstar food pairing profile, it's the perfect wine to pour the next time you have a nice juicy steak. What's not to love about that?

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Malbec Wine: An Old World Classic & a New World Rock Star