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Malbec, the Summer grilling wine
(Originally appeared in Wine, Food & Friends, Issue #90, Summer 2009)
Summer is here, and it is time to fire-up the barbecue. If you are looking for an inexpensive, ready-to-drink wine that is a perfect match for a Summer barbecue, try an Argentinean malbec. The common saying that the foods of a country evolve around its wines could find no better expression than that of the cuisine of Argentina. The locals’ love of beef is exemplified in their most famous daily staple, parrillada mixta, a grilled combo of beef cuts and saus age. Beef is cooked over an open flame, glazed in a garlicky chimichurri sauce, and topped with a fried egg.
Argentina is the only place, with the possible exception of the Cahors region in France, where malbec is the dominant varietal. How ever, in recent times, many Argentinean vintners are removing malbec wines and replacing them with more prestigious vines, such as cabernet sauvignon. In Bordeaux, malbec is used in small amounts to round out the character of their blend. However, even in Bordeaux, the use of malbec is declining. In spite of this, it is unlikely that the apparent winnowing out of this excellent varietal will result in its demise. Malbec is the wine of Argentina. Some of the best malbec wines in the world come from this country, and it is unlikely that the country will give up this heritage.
Malbec is gifted with an array of complex flavors. Look for dark colored fruits such as plum, blackberry, raspberry, black currant and black cherry. However, the tie-in with barbecue comes from its smoky, charcoal scents and flavors that are seasoned with just a dollop of oak. The wine’s rich full body, combined with its other sensory characteristics, neatly complements the character and richness of Argentinean cuisine.