Malbec’s smoky and berry-chocolate flavours make it ideal with charbroiled steak, BBQ Chicken Pizza, Portobello Mushroom Steak, Cabbage Rolls, Venison Stew, Pasta Bolognese, Chilli, and Hamburgers loaded with blue cheese, mushrooms & onions.

Young Malbec from Argentina, which hasn’t seen much oak, will feature refreshing flavours of plum, black cherries, raspberries and blueberries, along with subtle notes of chocolate, smoke, white pepper, and leather, making it ideal with anything grilled, especially grilled meats like beef!

Malbec Profile


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What is the Difference between French Malbec and Malbec from Argentina?

Argentina Malbec wine differs from French Malbec in that the tannin is softer, meaning Argentina Malbec is ideal for leaner cuts of beef and can handle dishes that are light on the tomato sauce such as Pizza, Chili, or Cabbage Rolls.  Young Argentinian Malbec is much more fruit-forward, velvety in texture, smooth, and has a short smoky finish.

Malbec from France is savoury, tart, earthy and intense.  With French Malbec wine, you’ll often taste flavours of lunch meat or bacon, along with white pepper, violet and spice.  The tannin in French Malbec is sharper, allowing it to pair with fattier cuts of meat, or meat cooked medium-rare.  The Cahors region of France is famous for its Malbec based wines, and I will write about Cahors in a future blog.

All of the pairings below will go with both French and Argentinian Malbec, however, they lean more towards Argentina Malbec due to the wine’s fruit-forward and friendly nature.  These pairings are also geared towards bottles of Argentina Malbec under $25.  Expensive bottles of Malbec will be much more complex in flavour as they will have seen more ageing in oak.  This brings out the rich chocolate and vanilla notes of Malbec, along with layers of leather, tobacco and dried fruits.  Reserve these aged bottles for richer fare such as Lamb Chops, Prime Rib Roasts, or a thick Porterhouse Steak grilled medium-rare.

Trapiche Malbec

Best Food with Malbec

Beef Short Ribs & Malbec Pairing

Beef Short Ribs are packed full of a delicate and hard-earned flavour and pair best with the medium-bodied and smoky nature of an Argentinian Malbec.  With its softer tannin, a young and fresh Malbec from Argentina should not overpower the meaty rib flavours you get with fall of the bone rib meat.  Beef Short ribs are often cooked slow or carefully braised over hours, thus, you don’t want a powerful red wine to swoop in and crush all those delicate flavours.

After they are cooked, Short Ribs are often served naked with its own gravy or brushed with a BBQ sauce and served over a plate of buttered noodles, mashed potatoes or rice.  With its cherry and plum flavours, Malbec wine offers a nice contrast against the beefy flavours of your ribs while providing refreshment against the starch your ribs are served with.  Meanwhile, the flavours of chocolate, smoke, white pepper and vanilla complement any BBQ sauce or grill marks on your short ribs.

NY Strip Steak & Aged Malbec Pairing

An aged Malbec from Argentina will have more tannin from its time spent in oak casks, making it  wonderful with a NY Strip Steak cooked rare.  NY Strip steak is not the fattiest steak, however, it’s still quite marbled and flavourful.  For Strip Steak cooked on the medium-well side, a young and fresh Malbec would be more appropriate as the steak won’t be as fatty and flavourful (the longer you cook your steak, the more fat (which equals flavour) is cooked out.

NY Strip Steak and other fatty cuts of steak such as Porterhouse or Rib Eye Steak are delicious with an aged bottle of Malbec due to the wine’s earthy and chocolate flavours that complement the grill marks on your steak.  The steak also has enough fat for the wine’s tannin to bite into, which allows the complex layers of leather, earth and white pepper to shine.  Aged Malbec will also feature stronger tannin, and tannin helps break down protein, which makes your steak taste juicer and more flavourful.

The same logic applies to roast beef. For Prime Rib cooked medium-rare, you’ll want an Aged Malbec from Argentina.  For leaner roasts of beef cooked medium-well, younger Malbec will make for a more delicious pairing.

While I’m on the topic of lean steak, Flank Steak is notorious for being lean.  However, when not overcooked, Flank Steak can be  delicious, but you still be doing a lot of chewing!  Fruity Malbec wines that haven’t seen much oak aging go great with Flank Steak (and Skirt Steak), as the berry flavours and velvety structure of the wine offer plenty of refreshment.  Meanwhile, the tannin in the wine help break down the protein molecules in your steak, making the chewing process a heck of a lot easier.

Personally, I rarely eat flank or skirt steak on its own, however, I do love me some steak fajitas made from this leaner cut of beef.

Hamburgers topped with Blue Cheese & Malbec Pairing

Malbec wine loves pungent blue cheeses like Stilton or Gorgonzola. The earthy flavours of the blue cheese bring out the earthy notes of the Malbec, while the saltiness and tannin of the cheese sharpen the rich fruit flavours of the wine.  While you’re add it, load up your burger with sautéed mushrooms, grilled onions and bell peppers.  These earthy vegetables will further draw out the complex flavours of white pepper, spice, smoke and minerals found in Malbec.

Young and fresh Malbec will pairs best with leaner hamburgers cooked medium-well.  In parts of Canada for example, burgers are legally required to be cooked medium-well at restaurants, thus, they lose a lot of flavour in the cooking process.  The fruity flavours of a young Malbec will fill that flavour void and offer up plenty of refreshing notes of plum, cherry and dark chocolate.  Leaner game meats, like elk or bison burgers, are also exceptional with Malbec as the fruit flavours of the wine will keep your mouth refreshed while it mingles with the delicious flavours of the meat.

For similar reasons, a low cost Malbec pairs well with Salisbury Steak.

Beef Cabbage Rolls & Malbec Pairing

Pairing Malbec that is young and low in tannin will jive nicely with any tomato sauce in your Cabbage Rolls, provided the sauce is light.  If your Cabbage Rolls are drowning in a tomato sauce, I would suggest trying one of our other recommended wines.  The bright fruit and smoky flavours of Malbec wine are delicious with any pork, beef, rice, or mushrooms you’ve stuffed into your Cabbage Rolls.  However, beef Cabbage Rolls work best with Malbec from Argentina.

BBQ Chicken Pizza & Malbec Pairing

With its smoky flavours and sweet hints of cherries, plum and chocolate, a fruity Malbec complements the BBQ sauce slathered across your Pizza.  Select a young and fresh Malbec from Argentina that has not seen much in the way of oak.  Aged Malbec and an intense Cahors Malbec from France will be far too tannic to get along with a sweet and acidic BBQ sauce.  Aged Malbec will also be too loud for the delicious chicken topping your pizza.

Malbec and Cheese Pairings

Malbec pairs best with semi-firm cheeses that are not overly salty, such as Asiago, Cheddar, Colby, melted Swiss Cheese, Provolone, and Gouda.  Malbec gets along with blue cheese, however, I feel it goes better when the Blue Cheese is accompanying something meaty, like a grilled hamburger or steak.  Keep Malbec away from soft and delicate cheese, like goat cheese, as the wine will overpower the cheese.

Popular Producers of Argentinian Malbec

Excellent producers of Malbec include Alamos, Alma Negra, Catena, Elsa, Las Perdices, Finca Decero, Los Siete, Nieto, Susana Balbo, Terrazas, Tikal Amorio and Zuccardi.