Many people first try a wine after selecting it randomly from a restaurant's list. If it was memorable, they come in search of it at their local wine store.
Malbec is one of those memorable varietals, said Michael Wilson, owner of MacLaren Wines in Bexley. The grape is fairly new on the market, said Wilson, who considers them among his favorite wines. Maybe that's because for $10 or $20, you get a lush, jammy, low-tannin taste.
Malbec grapes originated in southern France and were long used as one of the six grapes in a Bordeaux blend. They've been taken up with great success in Argentina, where they've become one of the country's trademark varietals and produce much lower levels of tannins.
"They're strong; they're accessible. You don't have to put them away for 10 years. And the stories of the wineries down there, they're at a high altitude, and it's almost like a desert."
The region of Mendoza, near the country's border with Chile, produces over half of all the wine that is manufactured in Argentina. All of the bottles Wilson suggests below-dark, inky jammy and velvety-were grown there. They all pair well with red meat, barbeque, chili, sausage, red-sauce-based dishes and spicy dishes. Those who will enjoy it most will be red-wine lovers, especially those into cabernet or merlot who are looking for lighter tannins.Crios Malbec (2007) Region: Mendoza, Argentina Cost: $16 Michael Wilson's advice: "This is one of my favorites, although I haven't found one I haven't liked. Oh boy, is it dry - and refreshing." Goulant The Marshall Malbec (2007) Region: Mendoza, Argentina Cost: $26 Michael Wilson's advice: "These are just fun, just great fun. They don't have quite the tannin in them that young cabernets have, so they're a little bit more approachable. There's a lot of balance to them." Goulant Reserva Malbec/Cabernet (2008) Region: Mendoza, Argentina Cost: $19 Michael Wilson's advice: "Sometimes they blend them with cabernets. You get these big, dark wines that want a big, steak-type meal with gravy and all the fixings."