Malbec cheese pairing

As Malbecs gain in popularity (which they have been with increasing speed over the last few years) you’ll far more commonly see them being served alongside food as a paired wine. Although Malbec is a beautiful wine in an of itself (and doesn’t require much to really shine) the strong flavors can be almost overpowering to many foods, so if you’re serving with a cheeseboard, finding a good Malbec cheese pairing is absolutely essential, as you’ll find that lighter cheeses are often easily overpowered by the strong fruity notes in the Malbec.

Malbec tasting notes

First, we should consider the tasting notes for a malbec. Strong on the fruity aromas, we’ll often find notes of black cherry and dark forest fruits (blackberries and blueberries) alongside more complex notes of cocoa, coffee, and chocolate.

With this in mind, it’s probably pretty clear how getting a great Malbec cheese pairing is a delicate art, as these notes could easily overpower many lighter cheeses. Fortunately, Malbecs tend to have medium acidity and tannins so while still full-bodied do not completely overpower the food.

Malbec and cheese pairings

When pairing Malbec with cheeses, look for strong tasting and rich cheeses. Go for a soft to semi-firm cows milk cheese or opt for a stronger tasting goats cheese if possible. Malbec wine pairs beautifully with hard matured cheddars, and will tend to pair well with any cheeses which are often associated with strong ruby ports for a pairing.

It’s a bit of a rogue suggestion, but as a final note, why not pair Malbec with a blue cheese? While not your traditional Malbec cheese pairing, the fruitier notes in the Malbec really help to bring out some of the complexity in the cheese, and both of the strong flavors prevent the other from dominating the palette.

If you don’t want to crack open a bottle of Malbec to taste whether or not it pairs well with your food then there is always a bit of a cheating alternative you can try – by pairing the cheese with the fruit notes associated with the Malbec itself. Deep notes of black cherries, blackberries, blueberries and plums are evident in most Malbecs – so why not get yourself some of these fruits to try pairing with your cheeses? You can even serve some of these fruits up in your cheeseboard along with your Malbec at a later date. Serving cherries with a cheeseboard is definitely out of the ordinary but trust us you won’t be sorry you tried!

All in all, Malbec is a brilliant wine, and a fine addition to be served alongside any cheeseboard – just be careful to ensure that the strong flavors don’t dominate the palette. A fine wine deserves a fine cheese to match it!

Malbec cheese pairing
Malbec cheese pairing is a delicate art, but once mastered you’ll find it’s an excellent way to enhance your cheeseboard. Move over port!

Pairing Malbec with other foods

Once you’ve mastered the Malbec cheese pairing, why not experiment with serving Malbec with other foods? A true staple of the Argentinian diet, Malbec will often be served alongside dark red meats and poultry – think steaks, lamb and earthy or smoked chicken.

Every Malbec is different, and some range from full-bodied to less-full-bodied, but as a rule of thumb they tend to be pretty far on the spectrum from ‘light’.  Any earthy flavors are the way to go, and you can often find Malbec pairs beautifully with very strong flavored dishes – you have to look no further than the traditional Argentinian accompaniment to steak as chimichurri dressing to see proof evident of this!

Malbec Regions

Malbec is a popular purple grape that is only one of the six varieties that can be blended with red Bordeaux. Its origin is southwest France from where it has been spread all over the world. Nowadays, it is often mistaken as an Argentine varietal, where it is extremely popular.

Here is a presentation of the top Malbec regions worldwide.

France

Currently, Malbec is planted on over 6,100 hectares. Most of which are in the southwest regions of France. Cahors is its main stronghold where most Malbec’s vineyards in France can be found. Other than in Cahors, there are Malbec vineyards in Pecharmant, Fronton, Cotes de Duras, Buzet, Bergerac, and few more places.

Argentina

Even though France is the country of origin, it is Argentina that made the variety famous. It is so popular that they call it a “national variety”. Currently, the Malbec variety in Argentina covers more than 20,000 hectares. Most of the vineyards are located in the Mendoza region. Furthermore, there are Malbec vineyards in areas like San Juan, Buenos Aries, Catamarca, and La Rioja.

United States

The Malbec variety was on the rise before the prohibition. It took a while to recover after the prohibition. It became very popular in the mid-90s when the interest of Malbec was renewed. From 1995 to 2003, Malbec plantings grew from 1,000 hectares to 7,000 hectares. Most Malbec plantings are in the state of California in the Napa Valley, Sonoma Valley, and Alexander Valley.

Other Regions

Argentina, France, and the United States may be the biggest Malbec wine regions, but the variety is also present in other parts of the world. Other regions with Malbec plantations include Chile, Australia (Langhorne Creek and Clare Valley), Italy (northern regions), South Africa, New Zealand, Canada, Mexico, Bolivia, and Israel.

One thought on “Malbec cheese pairing – making the most of your malbec

  1. Rob Wilson

    One of the best things about pairing Malbec with cheese by far is the strong fruity notes (eg, plums) that are so evident in most vintages. Similar to how Port has a “jammy” quality which helps it pair fantastically with cheeses, I think you get a similar experience with Malbec.

    When you have a very fruit-forward wine, it almost has qualities reminiscent of a chutney!

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