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Wine Education

10 fun facts about Malbec to lift your wine game

Tue 16 Apr 2024

Brown Brothers Malbec

Beefing up your trivia knowledge is always a good idea, ready for deploying at the pub or whipping out at your next dinner party (to widespread acclaim).

Add to your repertoire with some cheeky wine trivia – best paired, naturally, with a bottle of vino.

Partial to full-bodied, tannic Malbec? These 10 fun facts will deepen your devotion and impress your circle of family and friends. Because wine knowledge is cool, we promise.

1.      Malbec originated in France

The town of Cahors in south-west France was the first to cultivate the Malbec grape, known in French as ‘Côt’ – and it still produces the most Malbec in the country. The varietal is also planted in regions such as Bordeaux and the Loire Valley, where it’s commonly blended with Gamay or Cabernet Franc.

2.      Malbec was introduced to Argentina in 1868

Today, Malbec is synonymous with Argentina. But it wasn’t until 1868 that the French grape variety was introduced to Argentina by French agriculturist Michel Puget. Now the most common varietal in the country, Malbec is mostly grown around the high-altitude city of Mendoza.

3.      Malbec is named after a Hungarian peasant. Maybe

According to popular opinion, a Hungarian peasant called ‘Malbec’ first spread the grape throughout France, and the wine was named in his honour. More likely, the French word ‘Côt’ was the wine’s original name, originating in Burgundy. But when it comes to regaling your loved ones, we know which story we’d be leaning towards…

4.      75% of Malbec is now grown in Argentina...

Malbec is dear to many Argentinian’s hearts, whose declared allegiance leans towards fanaticism. And why not? Partial to Argentina’s ideal growing conditions and with vineyards occupying over 110,000 hectares across the country, Argentinian Malbec is exported by the truckload (we’re talking over 100 million litres a year). Epic.

5.      ...But Aussie Malbec is on the rise

Malbec loves a warm sunny climate, though not extreme heat. Hello Heathcote in Victoria, whose striking red soil and climate produce delicious, juicy Malbec. (For transparency, Brown Brothers grows our Malbec grapes exclusively in Heathcote. But our facts hold true, bible). Malbec is rising in popularity nationally, though, with a focus on single varietal wines that dance with terroir.

6.      Malbec and steak? YES. But also meaty fish and ripe cheese

The fact that Malbec pairs perfectly with red meat is hardly a revelatory nugget of trivia. But did you know a meaty piece of fish like tuna, mackerel or swordfish can also sing in harmony with this tannic red wine? And let’s not forget the inspired pairing of a ripe wedge of blue or washed rind cheese with seeded crackers and quince paste. Fireplace optional, though highly recommended.

7.      Malbec has legs (hear us out)

Not leg legs, you understand. Legs in wine speak refers to the way certain rich and high-alcohol (largely red) wines coat the inside of a wine glass after swirling and sipping. That pleasing viscous residue that streaks slowly back into the glass in streams – AKA legs. The poetic among us may prefer to refer to this phenomenon by its wonderful nickname ‘wine tears’. The choice is yours.

8.      Malbec is one of six grape varieties permitted in French Bordeaux wine

Unlike many New World wines, where experimentation is widely encouraged, Old World wines are often still governed by a set of rules. Only six grape varieties are permitted in the popular French wine Bordeaux, with Malbec being one of them. The other varietals include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Carménère, Petit Verdot and Merlot.

9.      White Malbec is a thing

White Malbec, we hear you ask? What on this good green earth? Argentinian wine brand Trivento pioneered this innovative low-calorie wine, which has lifted fruit characters and a crisp, dry finish. The wine’s near-clear hue adds a celestial note, as if gazing through a bottle crystalises the universe’s infinite possibility. Or perhaps we’re just waxing lyrical (in which case we beg your forgiveness).  

10. Malbec is dispiritingly hard to grow and prone to disease. Not to end on a downer

It’s no secret: the Pinot Noir grape is notoriously fickle and difficult to grow – the bane of many winemakers’ existence and the source of recurrent bad dreams. But let’s not forget hard-to-please, sun-loving Malbec. Malbec will shrivel up and die at the slightest provocation: wind, rain, frost, and especially mildew. A variety of vineyard-dwelling pests can also kill it dead.

But let’s turn that glass upside down. Malbec that does survive the tricky growing process to reach maturity has a delicious jammy, coffee-esque, smoky quality to it. A quality that has captivated palates around the world.

Here at Brown Brothers, we’re especially partial to a glass of Malbec on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Try our Brown Brothers Origin Series Malbec 2021or our Brown & Co A Little Smooth Malbec 2021 and see for yourself.


On April 17 each year the globe celebrates World Malbec Day! Queue the trumpets. And the vino.

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