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. Checkout some of our favorite Malbec food pairing recipes below.
Learn About Malbec Food Pairings:
Click on any of the below article contents to skip ahead.
- Pairing Malbec with appetizers
- Malbec meat pairings
- Poultry pairings
- Pairing Malbec with fish
- Malbec cheese pairings
- Calories in Malbec
- …and more
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 1860’s.
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.
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 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 Food Pairings & Recipes
Malbec is typically quite full-bodied, inky and contains medium-high tannins. Some Malbec’s 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 meat turkey. 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 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
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
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 Malbec’s.
- 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 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.