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  • Writer's pictureMolly Jean

Molly's Meal Match: Malbec

Malbec originated in the Southwest of France. It's the local grape variety of the Cahors region, where it's known as the oenologically correct name of Cot. It was not until the grape arrived in Argentina in the 1800's, that it received the nickname of Malbec.

Malbec/Cot was brought to Argentina via rootstalk and has thrived in the region since its arrival. Unfortunately, this particular variation of the grape has nearly disappeared in France. This is potentially due to the Phylloxera outbreak that killed many of the European Vitis vinifera vines in the 1860's.

Malbec is a weak, thin skinned grape prone to rot and fungal diseases. This poses a challenge in the vineyards of France's cooler wine growing regions, where rot is more likely to occur. Alternatively, the success of this grape in Argentina is attributed to its dry, sunny and altitudinous climate. These aspects curate an environment typically free of rot and fungal diseases; eliminating the need for preventative chemicals in the vineyards.

While they are the same grape, Cot (French Malbec), is a larger and higher yielding grape with light earthy flavors. Whereas, Argentinian Malbec is smaller and lower yielding, producing more concentrated fruit forward flavors.

These factors demonstrate the beauty of how Malbec can easily translate terroir. The wines they produce can be inky and concentrated, or light and herbal. They are dynamic wines that lend themselves to pairing flexibility with flavorful foods and lean meats.

Oenophile fact: Malbec translates to "bad mouth" in French.

Flavors + Aromas: Malbec Wines

Primary (grape and alcoholic fermentation): red fruits, red plums, raspberry, dark fruit, blackberry, boysenberry, black plum, herbal, earthy, mineral, floral, iris, red pepper flakes

Secondary (post-fermentation winemaking): vanilla, cocoa, mocha

Tertiary (maturation/aging): dried fruits, prune, sweet tobacco, dried leaves


Carne Asada Tacos w/ Avocado Cream Sauce

2017 Tinte Cellars Malbec

This pairing is bold, juicy and matches deliciously with Malbec. The medium tannin in this varietal of wine, allows for more freedom with the spice levels of the meal. This Malbec is peppery with dark fruit aromas. It is well balanced and smooth on the palate. The acid from the lime in the dish, highlights the sweet-floral aromas in the wine. While the fat from the steak/avocado eases the tannin - making room for mouthwatering spice!

Shopping List

Dry Goods:

avocado oil

corn tortillas (taco size)

2 tbsp of white vinegar

garlic salt (to taste)

salt & pepper (to taste)

Refrigerated Goods: 2 lbs of flank steak (skirt steak works too)

shredded pepper jack cheese (optional garnish)

Pico de Gallo (optional)

1 cup non-fat Greek yogurt


romaine lettuce

red onion

3 limes


2 jalapeño (minced)

6 garlic cloves (minced)

1/2 cup chopped cilantro


Serving Size: 4+


1. Begin by making the marinade. In a bowl combine: 4 cloves of minced garlic, 1 minced jalapeño, cilantro, salt & pepper, 2 limes juiced, 1 orange juiced, white vinegar, and olive oil. Whisk together well to ensure the flavors integrate.

2. Put the marinade in a Ziploc bag with the steak to lay flat in the refrigerator. This can also be done in a pan or in a reusable container. I like to use the gallon Ziploc because it is easier to flip the steak and massage the flavors into the meat. Marinate for at least an hour (not to exceed 8 hrs), flipping half way through.

3. Prepare the avocado cream sauce. In a blender, combine jalapeño, Greek yogurt, handful of cilantro, and 2 cloves of garlic. Blend until smooth and set aside.

4. Turn your grill, to high heat. Grill each side of the steak for about 8 minutes each side.

5. Chop your lettuce and red onion for garnish.

6. After both sides have been cooked, remove steak from heat, and allow it to rest for about 5 minutes. Slice steak diagonally to desired thinness.

7. Warm tortillas on a dry skillet or on the grill.

8. Build your taco!

tortilla > avocado cream sauce > steak > lettuce > red onion > shredded cheese > squeeze of lime


Choripan w/ Chimichurri and Pickled Balsamic Onions

Mauricio Lorca Reserve Uco Valley Malbec 2019

You must pair this traditional Argentinean sandwich with a Malbec from Argentina. It's simple to make and it's insanely delicious. It has spice, zest, and savory flavors all in one place. Argentina is world renowned for producing Malbec wines - containing 75% of the world's Malbec producing vineyards. Known for their impressive quality and richness, the wines are palate coating with concentrated flavors. You can also expect velvety tannins with rich fruity flavors. This Uco Valley, Malbec serves as a lovely compliment to the meal. The aromas of tobacco, plum and dark fruits blend deliciously with the flavors in the sandwich.

Shopping List

Dry Goods:

red pepper flakes (to taste)

1/4 cup of avocado oil

3 tbsp red wine vinegar

French baguette or sourdough


1/4 cup of sugar

1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar

salt & pepper (to taste)

Refrigerated Goods:

1 pound ground chorizo


2 tbsp of oregano

2 handfuls of parsley (chopped)

1 large shallot (minced)

1 lemon juiced

red onion (sliced)

Serving Size: 4


1. Begin with making the Chimichurri. In a small bowl combine: avocado oil, red wine vinegar, red pepper flakes, juice of 1 lemon, shallot, parsley, oregano. Set aside.

2. In a pan on low heat combine: balsamic vinegar, sugar and sliced red onions. Stirring occasionally, cook until the sugar has disappeared, the balsamic reduces and the onions become soft.

3. Meanwhile, in a medium pan cook the ground chorizo. Try to keep larger chunks of the meat intact. Be sure the meat is cooked through.

4. Optional - you can grill the buns to warm them and give them a bit of a crisp. I think this takes the sandwich to the next level.

5. Build your sandwich and enjoy!

sourdough > mayo > chimichurri > chorizo > pickled red onion


BBQ Chicken Bowl

Gounta Malbec Nouveau 2019

This bowl of sweet potatoes, coleslaw and BBQ chicken is a quick and easy recipe. The sweet and savoy flavors are the perfect match for a Malbec Nouveau. This is an interesting take on Malbec, from a region many of us do not think of as producing this varietal - New Zealand. It is light and extremely sippable. The smokiness and high acidity in the wine, gives it structure to withstand and pair deliciously with the BBQ flavors of the dish. This is a fun light pairing, perfect for a warm summer night.

Shopping List

Dry Goods:

4 oz can of diced green chiles

20 oz can of pineapple chunks (drained)

1/4 cup Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ (or preferred sauce)

1 tbsp yellow mustard

1/4 cup of brown sugar

cayenne pepper (to taste)

chili seasoning (to taste)

paprika (to taste)

1 tbsp avocado oil

1/4 granulated sugar

1/4 white vinegar

1/2 cup mayo

salt & pepper (to taste)

Refrigerated Goods:

2 chicken breasts

2 cups of shredded cabbage


2 cups of shredded cabbage

2 sweet potatoes (cubed)

avocado (garnish)

cilantro (garnish)

Serving Size: 4+


1. Place chicken breast in a crockpot, with mustard, BBQ sauce, brown sugar, diced green chiles and a pinch of salt. Cook on high for 4 hours.

2. Cube sweet potatoes, put in a bowl and drizzle with a tbsp of avocado oil. Toss with with cayenne pepper, chili seasonings, paprika, salt & pepper to taste. Sorry....I never measure.

3. In a small bowl mix white vinegar, sugar, mayo and salt & pepper to taste. Do a taste test to see if the slaw dressing is to your liking. If it is, mix with the shredded cabbage.

4. After 4 or so hours, shred the chicken. Add in pineapple chunks and cook for 30 more minutes on low.

5. Drizzle avocado oil in a large pan. Cook cubed sweet potatoes on medium, covered for 10 minutes. To ensure they do not burn or stick to the pan, stir occasionally. When they are tender, remove from heat.

5. Once the potatoes are done, build your bowl.

coleslaw > sweet potatoes > shredded chicken > drizzle with BBQ sauce > garnish with cilantro and avocado


BBQ Ranch Chicken Salad

Vin de California Tom Shula Malbec

To elevate this salad, take your time glazing and seasoning the chicken. It will compliment the refreshing veggies by making the salad, savoy and binge worthy. Californian Malbec is similar to those of Argentina, however they present more coffee and brown sugar notes. For example, immediately after pouring this wine, I got pronounced aromas of sugar donuts. Which was later complimented by the classic dark fruit aromas of plum and blackberry. These flavors and aromas parallel the flavors in the dish - sweet and savory.

Shopping List

Dry Goods:

15 oz can of corn

1/2 , 15 oz can of chickpeas/garbanzo beans

BBQ rub (I love The Signature Back Room BBQ seasoning)

salt & pepper (to taste)

Refrigerated Goods: BBQ sauce of choice

ranch dressing of choice

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts

Cotija cheese


sweet onion (red onion would be good too)

diced tomato (Roma or Campari are a good choice)

mixed greens

Serving Size: 2


1. Turn the grill to high heat.

2. Meanwhile, open and drain your garbanzo beans. Transfer to a bowl and add about 2 tbsp of BBQ sauce, mix until all of the beans are covered and allow them to soak in the sauce for at least 30 minutes.

3. Season both sides of the chicken with salt, pepper and rub.

4. Grill the chicken, after 10 minutes flip the chicken and paint on some bbq sauce on the exposed side. After another 10, flip and paint the other side. Cook for another 5-10 minutes (depending on your grill) pull from the grill and let rest.

5. Mix 1 tbsp of BBQ sauce with 1/2 cup of ranch for your salad dressing.

6. Build your salad.

mixed greens > corn > chickpeas > onion > sliced grilled chicken > dressing > sprinkle with Cotija


I hope you enjoyed learning about Malbec and checking out these pairing suggestions. If you have feedback, comments, or questions please feel free to comment below, post to The Wine Tails Facebook Page, or message me on Instagram.

Thank you Wine Simple, Wine for Normal People, The Wine Bible, and Wine Folly for providing me with amazing research materials. Follow along with The Wine Tails Pinterest page to see what gets me motivated and gives me inspiration for these pairings.

Cheers and happy sipping!

Recommended Regions:

Mendoza, Argentina – fruit forward, deep plum, sugar plum,

Cahors, France – rich, herbal, minerally, tannic, earthy-berry, lighter, more acid,

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