Wine 4: Malbec

Happy Hump Day!!! It’s Wednesday – you’ve made it to the week’s halfway point, which means you deserve a little happy hour/weekend beverage inspiration. This week’s post is all about MALBEC!

Malbec can be magical. Seriously, I love this wine. A little spice mixed in with that fuller bodied red is just so yummy and delicious.

Here are a few fun facts:

  • This grape originated in France, and is also known as côt. Today, it’s not grown as widely as it used to be in France, because it struggles in that climate and tends to rot or become diseased. Enter the Argentinians who were looking for a grape to plant and found a French guy (not just anyone, an argonomist) who recommended malbec. We can thank him for helping this grape stay alive and bloom into the magnificent wine it is today.
  • Malbec is a super blending grape, especially in France, so you’re more likely to find this varietal paired with others like cabernet sauvignon, merlot, or petit verdot in wines from that region.
  • “You say toe-may-toe, I say toe-mah-toe!” There are two official pronunciations: “MAHL-beck” if you’re referring to the French varietal, and “mahl-BECK” if you’re talking about the wine from anywhere else! So apparently, the variation in emphasis does mean something!

For this post, I opted to pour the Chilean Blue Towers malbec I received from my wine subscription at Bright Cellars. I first heard about Bright Cellars a few years ago, when I took the quiz, filled out my profile, and then forgot about actually ordering. Fast forward to a year ago, when I participated in a Meetup at a Milwaukee indoor rock-climbing gym, and found myself in a group with a couple of their team members, including one of the founders! It was fate. I ultimately ended up becoming a member, not just because I had a new connection with the company, but also because I had the opportunity to try several of their wines at some of their in-house events, and found I really enjoyed what they were making (and yes, they make all their wines).

It’s a really cool company, one I’d definitely recommend checking out, because your monthly deliveries will get you to try things outside your norm based on your flavor profile and how you’ve rated your previous matches (you can choose more or less frequently with their awesomely helpful customer service). LOVE. IT.


Some of the “profound” stickers sealing my Bright Cellars wine shipment. I look forward to seeing what they come up with for each month – I find these to be absolutely hilarious. Good mottos to live by.


Now, I’m pretty sure you’re here to read about the actual wine, so here goes:

IMG_2105Appearance: this was a very pretty and opaque, garnet red.

Nose: the first thing to hit me was the spice, accented with a bit of leather. Mmmm. The fruit rounding out the aroma included cherry, blackcurrant, and plum. There was also an unexpected whiff of raspberry.

Taste: definitely a lighter bodied Malbec, with low acidity and smooth tannins. It had a pretty clean finish, meaning the taste didn’t linger too long after swallowing. It went down pretty quickly, though I did have some help from my Dad to finish the bottle.

Overall, this was a bit different than other malbecs out there. This might actually be a good gateway malbec for those who haven’t ventured to the smokey/spicy reds, or who are transitioning to more full-bodied wines. Malbec is, traditionally, fuller bodied with more of a purple or magenta hue (so it was kind of unexpected when I poured this wine and saw it was more red). Also, depending on where your bottle comes from, you could have a variety of flavors – cooler climates like France tend to have more red fruit flavors and aromas, while warmer climates like Argentina produce malbec favoring more purple fruits.

A few months ago I hosted a malbec tasting with a couple girlfriends, where we each brought a bottle of malbec but tried to vary the region. It was phenomenal, and a huge success in my opinion! I wish I could share all the details from our evening (mid-week wine tastings definitely make the work week more tolerable!), but it occurred before I started documenting my tasting notes. Hindsight is 20/20, right? Based on that evening, though, I do want to suggest you take a similar approach to wine. It’s a great idea to taste a few and see what region produces flavors you enjoy most. I can say that from our experience, the French malbec tended to have less of a spicy taste and aroma and just tasted cooler, if that’s a tangible thing. So depending on your mood or setting, you may be more inclined to skip the Argentinian or Chilean malbec’s spice in favor of the more subdued bottle from Cahors.

Another fun thing about the malbec tasting I hosted, is that I actually attempted to include food pairings, too! Wine Folly’s page provided some good suggestions, and I ended up serving some bold flavors along with our wines. Prosciutto and phyllo wrapped asparagus (a guest favorite!) and mini bleu cheese burgers were on the menu, and were definitely crowd pleasers. Bleu cheese isn’t high on my list of favorite cheeses (just ask my husband), but I went to a local cheese shop and got this unbelievably creamy bleu cheese – super strong flavor, so you don’t need a ton, but man was it good. Much better than those crumbles we get at the grocery store!!

So I encourage you to get a little adventurous and make your way to your local wine shop or Bright Cellars (even if you don’t get matched with a specific wine, you can always send a request to your concierge), and grab a bottle – or two – of this delicious varietal!

I’m going to leave you with this little image:

For Christmas, I bought my Dad an aerator that looks like a snowman and it is AMAZING when you pour red wine out of it….


My nieces like to say he’s “choking and puking” – hey, as long as whatever he’s doing puts wine in my glass, I’m all for it!  🙂

They sell these in all different styles, and they make serving wine more of a treat than it already is! You can buy them from other places, but since I’m also a Cooper’s Hawk wine club member, check ’em out here! Great hostess gift, goofy gift, or legit gift for the wine-lovers in your life.

If you have stories about your malbec experiences or wine recommendations, feel free to comment!



2 thoughts on “Wine 4: Malbec

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