In terms of pairing, you could say that Malbec is a wine with everything to offer. Where a Cabernet is too tannic, Malbec offers a smooth texture; where a Sauvignon Blanc is very sharp, Malbec offers moderate freshness; where Pinot Noir is very sophisticated and delicate, Malbec is carefree, doing its own thing.
So, when dining in Argentina, there’ll always be wine, and here are some foods that go well with Malbec -and its various styles….
Asado. For Malbec, it is the ideal pairing, not only because it represents the dish most adored by Argentines, but also their favorite wine. Of course there is a radical difference between an asado and a barbecue. The simplest of all is that asado is an institution where it’s all about fire and meat, in a social gathering. Several cuts of beef are cooked with different flavours and cooking times. An asado of entraña, costillas, vacío, chorizo and morcilla, will go very well with a glass of Malbec. No matter the style.
Pasta. Italian tradition says that pasta is eaten every Sunday. It can be made at home, but is often bought from pasta shops found in each neighbourhood, town and city. Whether stuffed with ham and cheese, spinach and ricotta, or chicken, both Raviolis and Sorrentinos pair with a fresh, medium-bodied Malbec.
Pizza. Outside of Italy, there are few countries where pizza is a serious matter. In Argentina, and particularly in Buenos Aires, which has the best pizzerias, it is something that can be debated for hours. What nobody disputes however, is that, if a wine is required to put fuel on the fire of a discussion about Mozzarella or Napolitana – two local specialties -, it will be a Malbec. Those that best accompany the sauces and cheeses are the light ones from the East of Mendoza.
Tamale. A famous dish across America, from Mexico to Argentina, is a packet of corn leaves with various fillings boiled or steamed. Each region has a different version. In Argentina it’s very popular in the northwest, with ground beef or chicken, along with corn paste, all well seasoned. There’s the key: pair well with a spicy and corpulent Malbec from the Calchaquíes valleys.
Humita. Similar to the tamale in that the base ingredient is corn, and it is even wrapped in a leaf according to some versions. But unlike that, the taste of humita is sweet and spicy and doesn’t contain meat. It is also typical of the northwest. With this dish, what works best are Malbec Rosé wines, which bring freshness and fruit.
Sushi. This Japanese snack is now a global meal: there are very few cities in the world that don’t offer a version of sushi. As with almost all Japanese food, the issue with this dish is in the balance between the taste of the products and the abundance of umami in the soy sauce, as well as in the contrast of perfumes from wasabi. Light Malbec Rosé, Provencal style, or even the growing trend of white Malbec.
Chop Suey. The wok, with all its versions, is the most universal dish of Chinese food in the West. With Chop Suey, you can find almost anything finely chopped with wok sautéed rice. Depending on whether it is the main ingredient or is served with beef, pork, chicken or shrimp – it will have possible pairings. In each case, there is a Malbec to go with it, from the light and medium-bodied, such as those in colder areas, to refreshing rosés.
There are many dishes in the kitchens of the world, and as many Argentine Malbecs to pair with them. Discovering them is part of the enjoyment.