Both Merlot and Malbec are red grape varieties used to make red wines and blends. While Merlot has been around since 1784 with its first mention on a wine, Malbec has gone through a journey that’s highly appreciable and unparalleled, from its start in the 19th century, to a near-extinction, to its revival. People often get confused while blind-tasting Merlot and Malbec. It’s time we check out how these two grape varieties are different from each other.
Merlot is a dark blue-coloured wine grape variety. It is used as both a blending grape and for varietal wines. Malbec is a purple-coloured grape variety.
Wines and Flavours
As a varietal wine, Merlot shows a ruby red colour. It is soft and velvety with plum flavours and medium tannins leading to an elegant finish. On the other hand, the single varietal Malbec wines feature an inky dark colour while delivering dark fruit flavours, robust tannins and a smoky finish.
Light-bodied Merlot wines generally pair well with pizza, pasta dishes and grilled chicken. Medium-bodied Merlots can be paired with richly sauced dishes like steak, caramelised roast veggies, or grilled mushrooms.
Young and fruity Malbecs can be paired with smoky cured beef, chilli con carne, Fajitas, spaghetti and meatballs. Heavyweight malbecs, which are more expensive, taste best when paired with roast beef, dark chocolate, steak and barbecued lamb.
Facts & Figures
a) Popular Regions: Merlot grapes are produced in huge quantity in Murray Darling-Swan Hill, Riverland, Riverina, Langhorne Creek and Wrattonbully. On the other hand, Malbec grapes are produced the most in Riverina, followed by Murray Darling-Swan Hill, Langhorne Creek, Padthaway, and Riverland.
b) Land under Plantings: As per the reports, Merlot wines are planted on 8,477 hectares of land in Australia. That makes up to 6% of total land planted and 10% of total red varieties planted in Australia. Malbec, on the other hand, is planted on 562 hectares of land in Australia. That makes 1% of the total varieties of red wines planted in Australia, less in quantity, high in quality.
c) Grapes Crushed: A total of 125,512 tonnes of grapes were crushed in 2017 to make Merlot wines. That makes up to 7% of total crush and 12% of total red grapes crush in Australia. As for Malbec, a total of 6,554 tonnes of grapes were crushed to make wine in 2017. Though low in quantity, the quality of Australian Malbec wines has improved over the decade with sustainable viticultural practices.
The exports for Malbec have shown a dramatic and potential growth since 2014. It is these ever-growing figures which describe the value of Australian Malbec in the domestic and international markets. Regardless, whichever among the two you choose, both Merlot and Malbec wines are delicious drinks to consume. Try some to feel the sensation of the rich aromas and flavours these red wines tend to deliver every single time!