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Malbec, also called Cot Noir of Auxerrois in Cahors and Pressac in some other regions, is a dark colored red wine that is made from purple grapes having a high content of tannins, which is characteristic of Bordeaux wine. The inky dark color of the grapes is ideal when it comes to producing blends such as Merlot and Tannat that make dark and full-bodied wines. The wine is native to Cahors located in the South West of France, which is generally dark and tannic, with aromas of tobacco, raisin and damsons; however the French variety has a lower acidity with a flavor of blackberry fruit. In fact, with this grape being cultivated in other countries as well, such as Argentina, Chile, Australia and America, there is a range of flavors and acidity levels to the wine.

Origin of Malbec Wine

Malbec has a hazy history that says that the grape was first introduced into France by a Hungarian peasant. However, this theory is disputed as the evidence, noted by the French ampelographer and viticulturist, Pierre Galet, suggesting the origin of Cot, which is believed to be the original name, in northern Burgundy. In fact, with so many similarities between different varieties of this grape, there are many synonyms to the name of this wine. Then, with time, Cahors became the main producer of the wine, soon followed by Argentina, another major producer of the wine.

Regions Producing the Wine

Malbec is a strong red wine that is native to Cahors. This varietal was later introduced into Argentina in 1868 by Michel Pouget, a French agricultural engineer, which soon gained a lot of prominence and was spelled as “Malbeck”. The Argentinean variety of the wine is softer with lower levels of tannin. Today, Mendoza is a major cultivator of this varietal in Argentina. Other places that produce the wine in Argentina are La rioja, Salta, San Juan, Catamarca and Buenos Aires. Chile, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, British Columbia, Mexico, Italy, and some parts of America are other places that produce this wine.

Preparing the Wine

This grape varietal needs a lot of sun and heat, in fact more than Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot, because of its thin skin. This grape tends to ripen mid-season, giving the wine a deep purplish red color, along with a large amount of tannin. Because of its strong color, the wine is generally used in blends such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot, thus creating the red French Bordeaux Claret blend. Severe climates such as frost tend to put a brake on the growth of the grape that makes this wine.

Food Pairing and Serving of Malbec Wine

Malbec has a strong taste with hints of blackberry and plums, even woody, giving this strong, full-bodied red wine a heavy taste with a rustic appeal. Though the wine is high in tannins, it is a versatile drink that goes well red meats of all the cuisines such as Mexican, Cajun, Indian and Italian. This wine pairs really well with tomato sauce based foods and even barbecued foods, chilies and sausages go well with the wine.


Wine Trivia

The wine gets its dark color and strong tannins because of the limestone based soil of Cahors, where the vines are grown.

Argentinean Malbec grapes look like small berries.