Learn about which foods pair best with Malbec wine and why.
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Food Pairing with Malbec
Malbec is a medium to full-bodied red wine, and thus, it begs to be paired with more full-flavored foods. However, unlike Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec doesn’t have a super long finish (or as aggressive tannins), which means it will pair extremely well with leaner red meats, and even lighter cuts like dark meat turkey or roasted pork. The pairing secret of Malbec is that it works well with pepper, sage, creamy mushroom sauces, melted cheese, and in particular, blue cheese. YUM!
Malbec Pairing Ideas
When was the last time you had a blue cheese burger? By Mikko Kuhna
Blue Cheese Burger with Mendoza Malbec
A good basic bottle of Mendoza Malbec will tend to have more red fruit notes (versus blackberry flavors) and a slightly lighter body. For this reason, blue cheese will really amp up the intensity of the pairing. What are you waiting for?
Resinous herbs and mint on rich meats pair wonderfully with Malbec. By Megg
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Lamb and Mint with San Rafael Malbec
Wines from this San Rafael in Argentina often display more of an herbaceous quality, which pairs nicely with the fragrance, aromas, and flavors of mint or other herbs like rosemary and lavender.
Try wild rice and mushrooms in your stuffed peppers. By Waywuwei
Wild Rice and Mushroom Stuffed Peppers with Cahors
Cahors is the origin place of Malbec and makes a somewhat lighter bodied Malbec that often displays subtle red pepper-dried leaf notes. Fascinating! A stuffed pepper with enough umami should complement this French Malbec wonderfully. When creating this recipe, be sure to use enough fat (oil, butter, nuts, or cream) so that the dish can hold up to the tannin. It’s all about balance.
Here is a list of foods, organized by type, that pair well with Malbec wines:
Meats and Proteins
Malbec holds up well with dark meat poultry, roasted pork, and leaner cuts of red meat (such as sirloin, flap, hanger, filet, and skirt steak). If you like more interesting meats, you’ll be surprised by how well the fruitiness in Malbec can complement more gamey and earthy meat cuts, such as buffalo burgers, ostrich burgers, or even venison. For the veggie lover using mock-meats, be sure to use porcini mushroom powder, portobello mushrooms, or even cumin to amp up the umami factor in your dish.
Malbec is one of the few bold red wines out there that consistently pairs well with blue cheese and other pungent, soft cheeses (gorgonzola lovers, this means you!). That said, you will also be delighted with Monterey Jack, provolone and even melted Swiss cheese. The key when pairing Malbec with cheese is recognize that the finish isn’t extremely long, so a cheese also without a super long, lingering taste is generally a good match. For the vegan cheese maker, cashew creams with more herb-driven flavors will delight.
Herbs and Spices
The interesting thing about Malbec wines is that when you pair dry, desert herbs with it, the wine tastes fruitier and richer. This is a very good thing! This is also why some resinous herbs like sage, rosemary, and even juniper make a striking complementary pairing when used with subtly. Another fabulously surprising herb pairing is mint. For some reason, Malbec tastes more complex when paired with mint, making it a great option for traditional lamb chops and mint jelly! Additionally, lean more towards shallots and onions versus the intensity of garlic, and try different kinds of peppercorns (white, pink, green, red) for surprising effects. Finally, exotic spices, including clove, allspice, and cinnamon are great to compliment a richer and more smoky Malbec wine (look for a Reserva!).
Malbec is definitely more of a meat and potatoes wine. That said, there are some interesting options for vegetables that can work well. The most obvious example is mushrooms of all kinds, especially when roasted. Interestingly enough, something about the terroir in Argentina gives Malbec a subtle red pepper aroma that can really be embellished with actual red peppers. Definitely try roasting them.
Foods to Avoid
As with many full-bodied red wines, it’s typically a good idea to avoid bitter greens, fishy fish, and vinaigrette salads. Why? Well, generally speaking, the bitter in the greens will make the wine taste more bitter, the fish will linger on your palate and make the wine taste like a tin can, and the high acidity in the salad might make the wine taste more flat. There are, though, some clever workarounds, including cream-based dressings or roasting the vegetables sans acid and with the addition of more fat. What’s important to remember is that each Malbec wine has a slightly different taste profile, so there are many right answers and always room for experimentation!
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