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10 Great Wines Similar to Malbec

Will Beck
Last Updated: February 28th, 2023

Malbec wines are typically fruity, medium-bodied red wines. They exhibit flavors of blackberry, plum, and cherry, with notes of spice, leather, and tobacco. Malbecs can be enjoyed young and fresh, or they can be aged for a few years to develop additional complexity

People love Malbec wines because they’re approachable, food-friendly, and versatile. If you’re looking for wines similar to Malbec, try one of these varietals.

Top Wines Similar to Malbec

1. Cabernet Sauvignon

cabernet sauvignon

This is a full-bodied red wine with flavours of blackberry, cassis, and chocolate. Cabernet Sauvignon pairs well with grilled meats, robust cheeses, and dark chocolate.

What I like most about Cabernet Sauvignon is that it can be enjoyed immediately upon release or it can be cellared for many years.

This classic red wine grape is responsible for some of the world’s most iconic wines. It’s a popular variety for blending, but it can also be made into a stunning single-varietal wine.

While a Cabernet Sauvignon is more full in body than a Malbec, it shares many of the same flavour profiles, which makes it an easy transition.

If you’re looking for a Malbec alternative that’s sure to impress, try a Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile, Argentina, or France.

2. Merlot


This is a medium-bodied red wine with flavours of cherry, plum, and spice. Merlot pairs well with roasted poultry, grilled meats, and rich pasta dishes. However, the best thing about Merlot is that it pairs well with everything.

Merlot is perhaps the closest you’ll get to a Malbec in terms of versatility. You can pair a Merlot with nearly anything and it will taste great.

That’s because the flavours are so mild that they don’t overpower the food. Instead, they complement it perfectly.

Depending on which Merlot you choose, you’ll find a wide variety of flavours. Some Merlots are fruity and approachable while others are more robust with flavours of tobacco and leather.

No matter what your preference, there’s a Merlot out there for you.

3. Pinot Noir

pinot noir

Pinot Noir is a light-bodied red wine that pairs well with roasted poultry, grilled salmon, and pasta with light sauces.

I enjoy Pinot Noir when I don’t want anything too heavy, although there are some varieties out there that are a bit lusher than others.

Pinot Noir is a great option if you’re looking for a lighter red wine. The delicate flavours of strawberry and cherry make it a perfect match for food that is not too heavy. It’s also a great sipping wine on its own.

4. Zinfandel


This is a medium to full-bodied red wine with flavours of blackberry, plum, and spice. Zinfandel pairs well with grilled meats, barbecued ribs, and hearty pasta dishes.

Zinfandel is a great option if you’re looking for something a little more robust than a Merlot but not as heavy as a Cabernet Sauvignon.

The flavours are intense and the body is medium to full, making it a perfect wine for food pairing.

It’s similar to a Malbec in that it has flavours of blackberry and plum, but the spice notes give it a unique twist. If you’re looking for a Zinfandel with a bit more body, try one from Napa Valley.

5. Sangiovese


This unique, medium-bodied red wine hails from Italy and its flavours are nearly as varied as Merlot. In some cases, you’ll find fruit-forward flavours while in others, the wine is more herbal with notes of tobacco and leather.

Sangiovese pairs well with grilled meats, tomato-based pasta dishes, and sharp cheeses.

Sangiovese is a great alternative to Malbec because it shares many of the same flavour profiles. The main difference is that Sangiovese is usually much higher in acidity than either a Malbec or a Merlot, although it’s just as versatile.

If you’re looking for a red wine that’s a bit different from the norm, try a Sangiovese. The flavours of cherry and strawberry make it a perfect match for a variety of food. If you’re looking for a Sangiovese with more body, try one from Tuscany.

6. Bonarda


Bonarda is a variety many people haven’t heard of, and that’s likely because it tends to sit in Malbec’s shadow. It’s not as well-known or popular, but it’s a wine that deserves your attention.

The Bonarda grape is the second most popularly planted varietal in Argentina.

The flavour profiles are very similar, with notes of blueberry, plum, and cherry. However, the Bonarda has less tannin so it doesn’t taste as abrupt or dry. Most are unoaked, but you can find oaked Bonarda that tastes of figs and chocolate.

Bonarda pairs well with grilled meats and hearty pasta dishes. However, it’s also a great wine to drink on its own.

7. Syrah


Both Malbec and Syrah are indigenous to France and share the same flavour profiles, but Malbec has since become very popular in Argentina while Syrah is popular in Australia, where it’s called Shiraz.

Depending on where you find your Syrah, it could share notes of smoke, black pepper, olive, and bacon fat with Old World Malbec. In other instances, it will be similar to a New World Malbec with flavours of blackberry, plum, and spice.

All Syrah is full-bodied with firm tannins and pairs well with barbecue, braised meats, grilled vegetables, and cheese.

8. Dolcetto


This varietal is often overlooked in favour of the Barbera and Nebbiolo grapes that are also grown in the Piedmont region of Italy. While all three of these are great Malbec alternatives, the Dolcetto is the most unique.

High tannins, rich texture, and fruit flavours abound in this wine. You’ll find flavours of blackberry, plum, and cherry, with a hint of spice on the finish.

Dolcetto pairs well with grilled meats and tomato-based pasta dishes. However, it’s also a great wine to drink on its own or with a variety of cheeses.

9. Petite Sirah

petite sirah

This wine is actually a cross between the Syrah and the Peloursin varietals. The Petite Sirah is not as well-known as its parent grapes, but it’s a great Malbec alternative.

It has all of the same flavour profiles as the Syrah, with notes of blackberry, plum, and spice. However, it also has a bit of a peppery finish that makes it unique.

For some people, the full-body, intense flavours, and chewy texture of this wine can be too much, but if you’re looking for a wine with some serious flavour, the Petite Sirah is a great choice.

10. Zweigelt


This varietal was produced in 1922 by Friedrich Zweigelt and is indigenous to Austria. It’s the most popular red wine grape in that country.

The Zweigelt is a cross between St. Laurent and Blaufrankisch. None of these are incredibly popular, but the Zweigelt varietal became much more well-known than either parent.

This is a great Malbec alternative because they’re approachable and versatile. A Zweigelt wine has a high acidic tarty quality with fruit-forward berry fruitiness. These light-bodied wines are low in tannins, so they’re best enjoyed sooner rather than later.

However, they pair well with a variety of foods, making them a great choice for any occasion.

About The Author

Will Beck

Will is a true digital nomad, taking his work on the road at every opportunity. His first love is coffee, with whiskey a close 2nd. He loves nothing more than enjoying a perfectly brewed coffee with spectacular scenery whilst he coordinates behind the scenes of the Drink Stack blog!

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