Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Argentine Malbec Wine Tasting Guide

Malbec has been an increasingly popular red wine for the past three of four years. The grape was originally used as a blending grape in the Bordeaux region of France. Now it is being grown in many countries and has taken on styles of light and fruity to heavy and earthy. The most popular Malbec wines at this time are coming from Argentina. This wine tasting guide will give you my personal opinion on the tasting characteristics of Argentine Malbec, both the economical and more expensive ones.

The sight of the Malbec can help you tell the difference between a young wine and an aged one. It can also give you an indication of how much contact it had with the grape skins during the aging process. The younger wine will have a purple center with a ruby red edge, while an older wine will have almost a black center with a dark burgundy edge. As you swirl the wine and watch it run down the glass, you will notice it quickly disappear if it has a light body or it will slowly run down if it is heavy bodied. Most economical (under ten dollars) Malbecs have little aging and skin contact, while the more expensive ones go through a longer aging process in oak barrels.


The nose and taste profile is different between Argentine Malbecs than Malbecs from other countries. Most Argentine Malbecs have more earthy characteristics that come through first, while some from other countries are simple and fruit forward; this is the main distinction in Malbecs from Argentina. The nose usually has a vegetable, pepper, or green pepper aroma; this is a consistent characteristic for a lot of Argentine red wines, both low priced and expensive. The fruit is usually cherry, raspberry, or plum for the younger wines. The older wines tend to show darker fruit characteristics, such as black cherry or blackberry. A young wine (3 to 5 months in the barrels) will be lighter bodied, due to the small amount of time it spends in contact with the skins, and have less of an oak taste; the taste will reflect this by showing little more than the smell characteristics. A more aged wine (12 to 24 months in the barrels) will be heavier bodied and will add to the characteristics; some of these may be cocoa, vanilla, or some sort of spice.

Malbec is a versatile wine when it comes to food pairing. When I drink Malbec from Argentina, I plan on having some sort of food with it; this goes well with the earthy characteristics. This food could be something as simple as, crackers and cheese for a young wine, to steak for an aged bottle.

This wine tasting guide was meant to give you a basic overview of the Malbecs produced in Argentina. There are different characteristics for the grapes that are grown in different areas within the country, but this is beyond the scope of this article. Once you taste Malbec from different regions, try to develop your own opinion of the characteristics.

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