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Malbec vs. Merlot – Check the Differences

Malbec vs. Merlot – Check the Differences


Malbec vs. Merlot. These are two massively popular varietals that have their fan bases. Malbec and Merlot are not the same grape, but people often can’t tell the difference between the two when tasting wine produced with those grapes. Over the last 20+ years, these two varietals have been locked in a never-ending battle for popularity. This is an article about how these two grapes stack up against each other.

If you are confused about these two and want to know about them, you will have a clear picture of them by the end of this blog. They both have certain similarities and differences that we have mentioned here. From knowing their origins to the best food pairings, we are sure that we have covered all the grounds for you, and you will get all your answers right here. Let’s learn about them and look at the main differences between Malbec and Merlot.

Malbec vs. Merlot

1. Origin and Grapes

  • Malbec is initially originated from France in the Cahors region but is more related to and celebrated in Argentina.
  • Today, this grape variety has taken up around three-quarters of Argentina’s vineyards and is one of the most demanded and hence essential grape varieties.
  • Before Argentina started growing it in roughly the 18th century, it was considered a very quality grape that was unsuitable for making wine.
  • Malbec is one of the original five main grape varieties called the Bordeaux. This wine grape variety is a product of an ancient grape variety called Magdeleine Noire des Charentes.
  • These grapes are dark purple in color, trim, thick-skinned, and mid-ripening, producing structured full-bodied wines.

  • On the other hand, Merlot is one of the most popular red wines and is easy to grow. Its primary roots are also from a place in France called Bordeaux, and it stands on the second position of the largest cultivated wine grapes.
  • The grapes have a dark blue color with thin skin, less tannin and acidity, and high sugar content. It has been cultivated since the 17th century. It gained popularity in the 1990s.
  • Merlot wine grapes are easy to grow; they do not need much effort for cultivation. They can be grown in both warm and cold climates, and the most suitable soil for their growth is limestone and clay soils. This is one of the reasons why this wine is so affordable compared to other wine varieties.
  • It is one of the most cultivated wine grapes in France and later cultivated in other parts like California, South Africa, and Australia.

2. Tastes and Flavors

  • Malbec is a full-bodied wine with a deep purple color and lots of flavors.
  • It comes in two different styles, majorly based on the region where they are grown and produced.
  • A typical Malbec has jammy flavors of plum, pomegranate, blackberry, raspberry, and raisins.
  • There are also black pepper, tobacco, coffee, and leather hints.
  • It is medium acidic and tannins levels, and does not taste bitter because of its many fruity flavors.

  • Merlot is a soft and medium-bodied wine.
  • It has a charming mild taste of blackberries, blueberries, plums, and pomegranate with some herbal flavors.
  • It is low in tannins and acidity, smooth and soft.
  • Its most loved blended variants are Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc to produce something for your palate that is not meant to express in words but to taste it and live it!
Category Malbec Merlot
Appearance It has a deep and opaque purple-red color. But the rim has an appealing bright magenta tone. It has a much darker color, this deep ruby color comes from the blue-colored grapes in it.
Aroma It has the aromas of fresh red fruit, licorice, leather, caramel, tobacco, and some touch of coffee. It often smells like cherries and cocoa and has a background smell of herbs and spices.
Sweetness It is a full-bodied red wine that falls on the dry side for your palate. It is low in sugar, meaning it comes under the drier side and not the sweet side. Just because it has a dry side does not mean that it is not sweet at all. It does have notes of ripe fruits like plums and cherries.
Alcohol It is a high alcohol content wine, and the average ABV ranges from 13-14.5%. From cold places like France, it has 13–14% ABV but can reach up to 14.5% when grown in warmer climates Chile and Australia.
Aging Potential It is best enjoyed within 5-7 years. 7-17 years
Cost The average price can vary from $5 – $40. Merlot is less expensive, but the blended ones may cost more. The price can vary from $8 – $50.
Food pairings It goes well with foods like steak, pork, salmon, poultry-dark meat, and game meat too. It goes well with poultry, pork, red meat, pasta, salads, beef, and lamb.
How it can be used It is used to drink when you want red wine, which is budget-friendly—a good option to pair with your dinner. This wine is popular in its monovarietal version as it has a structure of its own. It can be used in cooking if you need a light flavor of the wine in your dish.

Malbec vs. Merlot: Conclusion


While planning or hosting a party or even a get-together with friends and family, you know that both of them will work perfectly as both Malbec and Merlot wines are loved by all over the world.

Even after these similarities that they both share, they still vary in many ways, so I tried to give you a clear picture of both of them so that you know which wine offers what and which one will be perfect for your palate. Enjoy drinking!

Also, check the difference between Merlot and Pinot Noir.

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