Malbec is Argentina's big, bold red wine grape, though it's also known and grown in France, South Africa, Chile, Australia and the U.S. Full-bodied, tipping towards the higher end of alcohol, acidity and tannin content, Malbec makes a very food-friendly pairing partner with its concentrated black cherry and blackberry fruit components, fig-like flavors mocha and mineral notes along with a unique gamey quality that often rolls out with smoke, pepper and tobacco spice. From roasted and stewed beef or game to braised lamb, sausage, mushrooms, and spice-laden sauces, Malbec has the versatility and spice-affinity to handle a stunning array of food combinations and ethnic cuisines. We'll start you off with some tried and true recipes from About.com's Food Channel here, but feel free to use these suggestions as a springboard for your own Malbec food pairing adventures.
The medley of mushrooms, oregano, basil and thyme provide the ideal starting point to mingle Malbec with lamb. This unique red wine varietal craves mushrooms and delights in herb-based dishes surrounding hearty meats. Make sure to use the Malbec you'll be serving with the lamb shanks for the half cup of red wine that the recipe calls for to make this particular food and wine pairing really pop. Many thanks to Peggy Trowbridge Filippone on our Homecooking site for sharing this easy and elegant dish.
Malbecs tend to pair really well with a wide variety of sausages and can even handle a bit of spice and heat in the meat. Given Malbec's general affinity for mushrooms and sausage, this filling pasta recipe from Italian Food Guide, Kyle Phillips, works its wonder on both New World and Old World Malbecs. I skipped the optional tomatoes as I wanted to highlight and not downplay the mushroom's earthy character for this varietal and "substituted" a splash of Alamos Malbec in the 20 minute simmer. Delish!
I am a fan of the crockpot - quick, easy and ready when dinner time rolls around. This restaurant-rivaling slow cooker recipe from Derrick Riches brings some serious barbecued pork together with minimal effort and maximum flavor. The sweet and tangy character of the barbecued pork is the perfect pairing for many South American Malbecs. With their dark, fruit forward character and tendency towards higher levels of acidity they cut the fat and shine a welcome spotlight on the Big Daddy's Carolina Style barbecue spice.
Big, bold Malbecs can more than handle spicy sauces and pairing it with this traditional South American beef stew gives ready testimony to the food-friendly, spice-loving nature of the markets best Malbecs. I gave the stew a cup of Malbec to edge it towards pairing perfection and the mix of cumin, paprika and chile pepper paste ramp up the innate spice-laden character of this versatile varietal.
Malbec, meat and spice - a recurring theme that bodes really well for this red South American sweetheart wine. I love the creative mix of Cajun spice with brown sugar in Diana Rattray's prime rib recipe, it truly brings out the varietal's velvety textures and innate spice character. Make the 1/2 cup of red wine the recipe calls for a Malbec and you will elevate the wine's pairing potential even more.
Just to show how accommodating Malbec can be, we've paired it with a Thai barbecue recipe featuring chicken and fantastic flavor components. The potent potpourri of unique Thai flavors - sweet, spice and savory call for a wine that will balance and enhance the dish and avoid the temptation to be overcome by ethnic flavor power plays, Malbecs have a sweet spot for barbecue sauces of virtually any theme and this recipe is no exception.
The full bodied flavors and softer tannins of an Argentinian Malbec handle the classic flavor profile of this delicious roasted beef tenderloin from About.com's Busy Cooks website. The black pepper and marjoram spice in this recipe pick up the consistent spicy undertones of this popular varietal well with a happy marriage of protein, fat and tannin ending in a round, full flavored finish.