Merlot vs Malbec : Taste, Pairings, and More - Wine by hearts
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Merlot vs Malbec : Taste, Pairings, and More

If you’re a wine lover, chances are you’ve come across both Merlot vs Malbec at some point. These two red wines are popular choices for their rich flavors and versatility. But how do they differ?

In this blog post, we’ll explore the key differences between Merlot vs Malbec, from their flavor profiles to their origins and food pairings.

Whether you’re a fan of one or the other, or just curious to learn more, this guide will help you understand the unique characteristics of each wine.


Merlot vs Malbec

Merlot is a red wine that’s grown all around the world and is known for its soft, fruity, and approachable character. It’s a popular choice among wine lovers because of its versatility and easy-drinking nature.

When you pour yourself a glass of Merlot, you’ll notice its deep ruby color and smooth texture.

As you take a sip, you’ll be greeted with flavors of ripe red fruit, such as cherries and plums, along with subtle hints of vanilla, chocolate, and sometimes even a touch of herbs.

The tannins in Merlot are usually quite soft, giving the wine a silky mouthfeel and making it easy to drink on its own or pair with a variety of foods.

The alcohol percentage in Merlot can vary depending on the specific wine and where it was produced. Generally, Merlot wines produced in cooler regions have 13% – 14% ABV while when produced in warmer regions ABV can reach up to 14.5%.

Merlot is a red wine grape varietal that originated in the Bordeaux region of France, where it has been grown and cultivated for centuries. The name “Merlot” is believed to come from the French word “merle,” which means blackbird, because the grape is dark blue-black in color.

Merlot is one of the most widely planted grape varieties in the world and is grown in many different regions around the globe, including California, Italy, Chile, Australia, and South Africa, among others.

However, its spiritual home remains in Bordeaux, where it’s used in many of the region’s famous blends, including those from Saint-Émilion and Pomerol.


Malbec is a red wine that’s known for its bold and fruity character. Originally from France, Malbec is now grown in many different parts of the world, including Argentina, where it has become the country’s signature grape variety.

When you pour yourself a glass of Malbec, you’ll notice its deep, dark color and rich texture.

As you take a sip, you’ll be greeted with flavors of ripe blackberry and plum, along with hints of chocolate, coffee, and sometimes even a touch of smokiness. The tannins in Malbec range from moderate to high, giving the wine a robust and full-bodied mouthfeel.

Overall, Malbec is a wine that’s perfect for those who enjoy a big, bold, and full-bodied red. It’s a great wine to pair with hearty dishes, such as grilled meats or stews, as its flavors can stand up to strong and spicy flavors.

The Malbec grape originated in France, specifically in the Bordeaux region, where it was widely planted and used in blends for many years.

However, due to its susceptibility to disease and low yields, Malbec gradually fell out of favor in Bordeaux and was replaced by other grape varieties.

In the late 1800s, Malbec was introduced to Argentina, where it found a new home and thrived. Today, Argentina is the world’s largest producer of Malbec, and the grape has become synonymous with the country’s wine industry.

Malbec is also grown in other parts of the world, such as Chile, the United States, Australia, and South Africa, among others.

However, it’s in Argentina where Malbec has truly made a name for itself, producing rich, flavorful wines that are enjoyed by wine lovers around the globe.

Key Difference Between Merlot vs Malbec.

Merlot vs Malbec Two Labeled Bottles Of Wine Beside A Wine Glass By The Pool

Malbec and Merlot are two popular red wine varieties, but there are some key differences between them:

1. Flavor – Malbec is known for its bold and fruity flavors of blackberry and plum, along with hints of chocolate and coffee.

Merlot, on the other hand, is softer and more approachable, with flavors of ripe red fruit like cherries and plums, along with subtle notes of vanilla and sometimes even a touch of herbs.

2. Tannins – Malbec typically has firm tannins, which give the wine its full-bodied mouthfeel and makes it a good match for rich, hearty dishes.

Merlot, on the other hand, has softer tannins, which gives the wine a silky texture and makes it a great wine for drinking on its own or pairing with a variety of foods.

3. Alcohol content – While the alcohol content of both wines can vary, Malbec tends to have a higher alcohol content than Merlot.

Malbec’s ABV can range from 13.5% to 15%, while Merlot’s ABV usually falls between 13% to 14%.

4. Appearance – Merlot grapes are generally round, medium-sized, and have a dark blue-black color.

Malbec grapes are smaller than Merlot grapes, with thick skin and deep purple color.

5. Sweetness – Merlot has less than 0.5g of residual sugar while Malbec tends to be sweeter with 1.5g of residual sugar almost.

6. Body – Merlot tends to be a medium to full-bodied red wine while Malbec is robust full-bodied red wine.

7. Food Pairing – Merlot’s softer tannins and lighter body make it a great pairing for chicken or turkey dishes, especially when prepared with herbs like thyme or rosemary, pasta dishes, and mushroom-based dishes.

While Malbec’s full body and rich flavor make it a great pairing for grilled or roasted meats such as steak, lamb, or pork and hard cheeses like aged cheddar or Parmesan.

What To Choose: Merlot vs Malbec?

Merlot vs Malbec person pouring wine on clear wine glass

If you’re trying to choose the perfect red for your first-time tasting but not sure where to start, Merlot may be a good choice for you.

Merlot is generally considered to be a softer and more approachable wine compared to Malbec, with flavors of ripe red fruit and subtle notes of vanilla.

Choosing between Merlot vs Malbec ultimately comes down to personal preference and what you’re in the mood for. Here are some things to consider:

  • If you prefer a softer, more approachable wine that is easy to drink on its own or pairs well with a variety of foods, Merlot may be the better choice for you.

  • On the other hand, if you enjoy bold, full-bodied wines with more pronounced flavors and firmer tannins, Malbec may be the better choice for you.

Ultimately, the best way to choose between Merlot vs Malbec is to try both and see which one you prefer. You can try them at a wine bar or restaurant.

Experimenting with different wines is a great way to discover new favorites and expand your palate.

Top 3 Merlot Wine.

Here are the top 3 Merlot wines you should try.

1. 2010 Trilogie de Le Pin, Pomerol.

Trilogie de Le Pin is the second wine of Chateau Le Pin, a highly acclaimed Pomerol winery in the Bordeaux region of France. The 2010 vintage of Trilogie de Le Pin is widely regarded as one of the best vintages of wine in recent years.

Known for its crispiness, the hint of plum, cedar, orange, cinnamon, and cocoa powder are at the forefront of this remarkable wine.

2. 1999 Miani Merlot Colli Orientali del Friuli.

1999 Miani Merlot Colli Orientali del Friuli is a wine of exceptional quality, with a complex and layered flavor profile that showcases the best of the Merlot grape. It is a wine that can be enjoyed now but also has significant aging potential.

On the palate, the wine is full-bodied and complex, with flavors of dark fruit, tobacco, and coffee, as well as a hint of minerality. The tannins are firm and well-structured, providing a long and elegant finish.

3. 2000 Tua Rita Redigaffi Toscana IGT.

This critically acclaimed wine has a full-bodied character and notes of dark fruit, espresso, and chocolate with high tannin and a powerful finish.

Top 3 Malbec Wine.

Glasses and Bottles of Wine on Wooden Table

Here are the top 3 Malbec wines you need to try.

1. The 2017 Clos de los Siete.

The 2017 Clos de los Siete is a red blend from Mendoza, Argentina, created by the renowned winemaker Michel Rolland.

The wine is a blend of Malbec, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Petit Verdot, with each grape variety contributing to the wine’s complex flavor profile.

On the palate, you’ll find hints of black fruit, dark plum, chocolate, vanilla, and hearty oak spices.

2. Trapiche Medalla Malbec 2016.

Another exceptional wine from the Mendoza region of Argentina. This wine is made from 100% Malbec grapes, grown in vineyards located at the foothills of the Andes mountains.

This Malbc wine was made in 1983 as a tribute to the winery’s 100th anniversary, using grapes from Mendoza’s oldest vineyards.

It has a deep purple color and intense aromas of red fruits, plums, and raisins, with hints of vanilla and toasted bread.

3. Zuccardi Concreto Malbec 2019.

Zuccardi Concreto Malbec 2019 is a top-notch red wine from Mendoza, Argentina. It’s made from Malbec grapes grown in the region’s high-altitude vineyards.

What sets Zuccardi Concreto Malbec 2019 apart is its unique production method. The wine is aged in concrete vats instead of traditional oak barrels.

This process allows the wine to develop without the influence of oak flavors, resulting in a wine that is pure and expressive of its terroir. The concrete also provides a natural micro-oxygenation that helps to soften the tannins and develop the wine’s complex aromas and flavors.

In the glass, the wine has a deep ruby color with violet reflections. On the nose, it offers intense aromas of ripe black fruit, such as blackberry and plum, with hints of violets and spice.

Final Takeaways : Merlot vs Malbec.

While Merlot vs Malbec are both red wines, they have distinct differences that make them stand out. Both wines have their own unique characteristics that make them great choices for different occasions and palates.

So whether you prefer the classic elegance of Merlot or the boldness of Malbec, there’s no denying that both wines have a lot to offer.