Wine Culture

Malbec vs Cabernet Sauvignon

There’s a lot of debate among wine lovers about Malbec and Cabernet. Which is better? Is one inherently more complex or interesting than the other?

In this post, we’ll explore the differences between these two popular red wines and see which comes out on top. Stay tuned!

Malbec wine is a red wine grape variety that is originally from southwestern France. The grape thrives in warm, sunny climates and produces wines that are deeply colored with intense fruit flavors. Malbec wines often have notes of blackberry, plum, and spice. Cabernet, on the other hand, is a red wine grape that originated in the Bordeaux region of France. Cabernet wines are typically full-bodied with firm tannins and flavors of black currant, cedar, and chocolate.

So, which is better? malbec or cabernet?

All of those fancy fizzy beverages daring to partner up with your dinner may be put to shame by a glass (or two) of red wine. Not all red wines are the same, however, and I’ll compare Malbec vs Cabernet to determine which one shines in certain situations in today’s comparison.

Both of these are well-known red wines made by some of the world’s greatest winemakers. Both of them have a large fan base, and it would be unjust and incorrect to name winners and losers.

Instead, in this post, I’ll explain how they vary from one another and why it’s significant.

Four Crucial Differences Between Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon

Please note that ‘Cabernet Sauvignon’ and ‘Cabernet’ are both synonymous with this beautiful red wine, and that I’ll be using both names to refer to it.

Let’s begin the discussion with some significant distinctions between Malbec and Cabernet:

  1. Malbec has been an all-time favorite for years, with variations in flavor and little consistency, although Cabernet (original) is more or less constant.
  2. Argentine reds are more limited in terms of food matching, but when it comes to flavor, they provide a wider range than the Cabernets.
  3. In terms of body, the Malbec is a hefty wine, while the Cabernet has a light body, which makes it distinct in terms of sensation.
  4. Both of these red wines are dry, but Malbec is considered drier than Cabernet.

Cabernet Sauvignon

The first contender in this Cabernet Sauvignon vs. Malbec comparison is a well-known red wine that resulted from chance or destiny.

In the mid-17th century, a group of Cabernet franc variety grapevines ended up in a vineyard dedicated to Sauvignon blanc grapevines (or perhaps vice versa). This fateful conjunction resulted in the creation of a new varietal of grapes that have thick skins and are little.

It was this wine that won the hearts of French winemakers, and it quickly spread throughout the world in later centuries thanks to its breathtaking beauty.

Today, very few winemakers produce Cabernet Sauvignon entirely from cabernet sauvignon vines. Most manufacturers prefer to combine it with Malbec to create a flavorful combination that is rich and distinct.

What Does Cabernet Sauvignon Taste Like?

The Cabernet Sauvignon grape has a berry flavor with a spicy undertone, and it is the most prominent taste in a fresh wine produced from recently picked grapes. Of course, when compared to other capable wines, the Cabernet tastes distinct after some time.

The fruity flavor fades as time goes by, letting other aspects of the wine to shine through. The mature taste is smooth and delicate yet robust in terms of tobacco and other components.

In either case, drinking Cabernet Sauvignon is a pleasure.

What Are the Differences Between Its Versions?

The California version is denser and has a somewhat larger percentage of alcohol in it, with the French edition being 12% alcohol by volume. It also has a greater acidity level.

If you do come upon this wine, there’s a good chance it won’t be 100 percent Cabernet pure. It will most likely include a portion of Malbec, too.


The second contender in this Malbec vs. Cabernet Sauvignon battle hails from France, but its origins are more associated with Argentina nowadays.

Malbec has a distinctively recognizable taste and fragrance profile, with several distinct varieties available for an ever-growing pool of consumers.

Where Is Malbec Made?

The name “Malbec” comes from the French word for blackberry, “malvoisier.” The most common way to identify a Malbec is by looking at its label and seeing if it says Montepulciano. But not everyone knows this, and there are still other distinct regions that produce excellent examples of red wine labeled as Malbec.

How Is Malbec Made?

Malbec is produced in a way that’s quite similar to Cabernet Sauvignon. The primary difference is the way in which malolactic fermentation is handled. This process is what gives the wine its characteristic taste.

What Does Malbec Taste Like?

Malbec has a fruity, flowery taste with strong notes of blackberry, raspberry, and plum. It also has an undertone of chocolate, which makes it all the more delicious. The tannins are also quite noticeable but not bothersome.

The term “velvety” is often used to describe the sensation and flavor of Malbec by wine connoisseurs. It implies that it has a proper proportion of tannins (polyphenol compounds from organic sources) and delivers an elegant finish taste.

The smoky finish, which contains tobacco components, is also popular and is often served with smoked meat. It’s dry overall, with a residual sugar content of only 16 grams per liter. The berries provide just a hint of sweetness to the overall taste.

Its acidity, which is not overpowering but does stand out (if you have a feel for it), would be another notable characteristic.

What Are the Differences Between Malbec Versions?

The French Malbec is light and somewhat tart, yet still very fruity. Argentine, on the other hand, is quite different. It’s more robust, with a heavier body and a higher alcohol percentage.

It all comes down to terroir-the climate, soil composition, and other factors that make up the environment where the grapes are grown. These conditions have a significant impact on the taste of wine.

Wine experts would also say that French Malbec tastes “cleaner” than Argentine Malbec. The latter has a more tannic finish, which can be attributed to the way it’s produced.

The French malolactic fermentation method preserves the natural acidity of the grape juice, while the Argentine method adds tannins to the wine.

Argentina rose to prominence as a rival winemaker after its climatic conditions were closely comparable to those of France. Although it was formerly thought of as an excellent ingredient for mixes, it is now recognized as a well-known wine in and of itself.

malbec vs cabernet

Comparing Cabernet vs Malbec

Here’s how the two compare on a variety of topics:


Both Malbec and Cabernet are dry wines, which means that their residual sugar content is very low. Some individuals want to imply the dry sensation that a sip of wine can leave your mouth with when they use the word “dry.”

If that describes your situation, then Malbec is considered a drier variety between the two. Of course, this isn’t typical since both wines can be produced in many different versions, allowing you to choose the style of sensation that best appeals to you.


The body of a wine is the sensation of heaviness it creates in your mouth. Malbec, like a full-bodied wine, is heavier than Cabernet, which is a light-bodied wine.

Flavor Comparison

The history of malbec has seen a number of changes, and its flavor cannot be characterized with simple adjectives due to the wide range of options. A basic Malbec, on the other hand, is defined as fruity and spicy with a smoky aftertaste that lasts for a brief time.

The quality of the Cabernet, on the other hand, has remained extremely consistent throughout history. Only minor changes have occurred in the wine’s flavor. A refined taste will not be as sweet but will instead include secondary characteristics such as that of tobacco. In general, neither wine is “sweet,” just offering a hint of fruity tastes.

Food Pairing Comparison: Malbec vs. Cabernet Sauvignon

Overall, Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon are excellent companions for a hearty supper, with Malbec being more flexible. This isn’t to imply that the Cabernet doesn’t play well in its own ballpark.

Here’s a side-by-side comparison of food pairings for Malbec and Cabernet:


Meat and Malbec are a match made in culinary heaven.

This red wine goes well with Indian, Thai, Mexican, and Italian meals, but it’s red meat that tastes fantastic with them. The ideal example in this situation would be a barbecue since the meat’s smokiness complements Malbec’s smokey finish.

Salmon and tuna are excellent complements to a glass of this crimson miracle, especially if you’re going for the latter as a steak.

Malbec can be paired with such meals as sausages, beef, mushrooms, lamb, stews, cheeses, poultry, and charcuterie to create a similar degree of bonding.

The list doesn’t stop there, you may try a variety of foods that are washed down with this wonderful red wine.


To get the most from a Cabernet Sauvignon, it’s best to age it for a while to develop a mature flavor that goes well with red meat-based diets.

A Cabernet goes well with lamb, grilled meat, beef, cheeses, dark chocolate, sausages, and burgers.

Not as comprehensive as that of Malbec, though it includes a few honorable mentions.

Final Thoughts

The fact that there are so many pairings of Malbec, compared to Cabernet, indicates a clear advantage. That isn’t to suggest that the Cabernet experience will be any less remarkable. Rather, it’s just because you can use Malbec more often.

If you’re looking for a red wine to drink with your dinner (at home), you could safely put your money on the Malbec side. Of course, rather than making such an arduous choice, you may simply combine the two to get the most out of each one.


If you have any questions concerning whether Cabernet Barrique or Malbec is better, this section may clear things up:

Is it better to drink Cabernet or Malbec?

It’s difficult to decide who wins in a battle between two beautiful wines from the heart of Europe. If you’re talking about the one that can be used with the most foods, then Malbec beats it hands down.

The Cabernet, on the other hand, is a wonderful beverage that you will not soon forget. If at all possible, try them both to see how they compare. In the end, I am unable to come to a conclusion about which one is superior.

Which wine is drier?

The difference between ‘dry’ and ‘sweet,’ as defined by many people, is subjective, but when consumers speak about the dry sensation (rather than residual sugar content), most agree that Malbec is drier than Cabernet.

Otherwise, both are comparable in terms of construction and may be molded into various shapes, making one drier than the other.

What are the similarities between Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon?

Both are red wines, made mostly of grapes, from mainland Europe’s Gallic lands. Malbec and Cabernet are both lightly sweet (although not dessert wines) with a hint of acidity and a fascinating bouquet (I used to despise sniffers until I became one myself).

When it comes to the subject of expertise, most people utilize them interchangeably.

The Bottom Line

It’s also crucial to consider what kind of food you’ll be eating with your wine when selecting between Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon. Of course, personal taste will play a part, and you do have the choice of sipping on a combination of these two legendary grapes.

In general, Malbec is more versatile and pairs well with a wider range of foods, especially at formal dinners. However, if you do drink a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon, you’ll see why there’s all the buzz about it.

Whatever wine you choose, keep in mind to enjoy the flavor and the occasion!

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