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Exploring The Differences: Malbec Vs Merlot - Slosh Spot

Exploring The Differences: Malbec Vs Merlot

Malbec and Merlot are two of the most popular wines on the market, and they share some striking similarities, making the query ‘What is the difference between Malbec and Merlot?’ appear to have a rather technical solution. 

However, several subtleties and intricacies distinguish each of these wines, and once you learn the distinctions, you’ll never go back.


Malbec Vs Merlot

What Is Malbec?

Malbec is a rich, full-bodied red wine cultivated in France’s Bordeaux area. It is presently one of only six varieties of wine authorized in the world-famous Bordeaux Blend red varietal.


  • While the grape originated in France, it is not always obvious where since legends and fairytales cloud the plant’s past. 
  • The most plausible theory is that the grape originated in the north of Burgundy under a different name, while a lovely fable about the vine being disseminated throughout France by a Hungarian peasant named Malbec is a fan favorite.

How Did It Become Popular? 

Malbec’s popularity has risen over time and is now available worldwide. Perhaps most notable is the rapidly growing popularity of New World wine areas, particularly Argentina. This is most likely related to the qualities of Malbec and how the grape ripens.

The grape’s thin skin requires much more sunlight and temperature to mature than other grapes, such as Merlot, properly. This makes it suited for warmer locations, such as Argentina, rather than the comparably cold countries of Europe.

Texture And Tannin Level- 

  • Malbec wine has a rich color, flavor, and substantial body, with a tannin level ranging from mild to high. 
  • It has a medium to moderate acidity level and is rather dry. It’s also quite fruity, with plums and blackberries from warmer climates and raspberries and cherries from cooler climates.

When matching a Malbec, remember that while it has tannins and a robust body, it also has a very short finish, making it a perfect partner with lean red meat. 

  • Consider non-fatty cuts of meat, such as sirloin steak, and more unusual meats, such as llama. 
  • It also mixes nicely with cheeses that are usually difficult to match, such as blue cheese.



Merlot wine

What Is Merlot? 

Merlot is the world’s second most widely planted grape variety, after only Cabernet Sauvignon. Merlot lost its crown to Cabernet Sauvignon in 2015, although its popularity endures, as Merlot remains the most widespread grape in France’s Bordeaux region, despite the popularity of Cabernet. Merlot remains a household favorite and a family name in the world of wine.


  • The grape’s official cultivation began in the Bordeaux area of south-west France. 
  • Merlot is still popular for varietal and blended wines, the most famous of which is the famed Bordeaux mix.

How Did It Become Popular?

  • As we approach the French border, the actual extent of Merlot’s appeal becomes clear. 
  • It was once the most popular wine in the United States of America, thanks to the broadcast of a 60-minute episode about the ‘French Paradox,’ which holds that red wine has health benefits that offset the French people’s comparatively ‘unhealthy’ lifestyle.


There are two main methods for producing Merlot. 

  • By looking at its origin, you can generally tell which method your Merlot was created. 
  • The ‘International Method’ will be used to develop a New World Wine. 
  • New World wine refers to countries producing wine for a long time.

Texture And Tannin Level

  • The International Production Method selects a later harvest. This later harvest indicates that the wine has had more time to mature, and this later development will result in a wine with a heavier fruit taste. 
  • Berries, such as plums, black cherries, and blackberries, will be included in this fruit. 
  • The wine will also have considerably more developed tannins and will usually be sweeter.

In contrast, Old World wine nations, or those that have been making wine for more than 400 years, such as Europe, the Middle East, and portions of North Africa, will use what is known as the Bordeaux Style of production.

The grapes for the Bordeaux production style are picked significantly earlier in the year than for the International style. This modification has a significant impact on the wine. The fragrances will change dramatically, with blackberries turning to red berries. What was a plum will be transformed into strawberries and raspberries. What was once black cherry becomes a red cherry, and so forth.

  • The wine will also have far fewer tannins than an International Style, which will be substantially more acidic and have less natural sweetness. 
  • This will alter how you match the wine and a drinker’s choice for style. 
  • A Bordeaux-style wine pairs well with tomato-based foods and various cheeses, making it an ideal companion for Italian-style cuisine.


Malbec Vs Merlot: What Are The Key Differences? 

Malbec Vs Merlot

One of the primary distinctions between Malbec and Merlot is their regional appeal. Malbec is more popular in New World vineyards, although Merlot dominates in Old World wineries. 

Merlot is far more terroir-dependent–you might have two wines from the same grape from different regions of the world and not even notice it’s the same grape. 

In comparison, while showing regional variances, Malbec is a touch more consistent than Merlot.


  • Merlot is a wine grape varietal that is dark blue in hue. It is used for both blending and varietal wines. 
  • Malbec is a dark purple grape varietal.

Flavors and Wines

  • Merlot has a ruby red tint as a varietal wine. It has a delicate and velvety texture, plum notes, and mild tannins that lead to an exquisite finish. 
  • On the other hand, the single-varietal Malbec wines have an inky black hue and give rich fruit aromas, powerful tannins, and a smoky aftertaste.

Food Combinations

  • Light-bodied Merlot wines go great with pizza, spaghetti, and grilled chicken. Merlots of medium body can be combined with heavily sauced meals such as steak, caramelized roast vegetables, or grilled mushrooms.
  • Malbecs that are young and fruity can be combined with smoked cured beef, chili con carne, Fajitas, pasta, and meatballs. Heavyweight malbecs, which are more costly, go well with roast meat, dark chocolate, steak, and grilled lamb.


What To Choose: Malbec Or Merlot? 

Many of the same meals match nicely with Malbec and Merlot. 

  • Both wines are acidic and tannin-rich, making them ideal for pairing with steaks, bison, dark fowl, and pork. 

These wines go well with vegetarian foods like mushrooms and sweet potatoes due to their acidity and plenty of fruit flavors.

Steak With A Glass Of Malbec

However, you should avoid a few foods when drinking either of these wines. Unless accompanied by strong sauces, Merlot and Malbec will overshadow lighter-flavored dishes like green salads, white fish, and shellfish.


Final Thoughts

Malbec and Merlot are two popular red wines that appear very similar to the inexperienced palate. Even experienced palates may find them similar: Malbec has been described as a ‘rustic’ version of Merlot. 

The main distinctions between these two wines are their acidity levels and tannin softness.

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