Argentina Malbec = Versatility: M&Ms Pairing Potential

wine - image courtesy of wikimedia
image courtesy of wikimedia

All Malbecs are not created equal, and not all Malbecs are produced in Argentina.

Research suggests that the Malbec grape originated in southwestern France and was cultivated in the region for centuries and one of the 6 grapes originally permitted for use in Bordeau wine; however, the French in Bordeaux lost their lust for Malbec due to its susceptibility to diseases and its difficulty in ripening.

Beginning the Journey

In the mid-19th century, Malbec found its way to Argentina and has since become brand most associated with the country and considered the country’s signature grape variety. Malbec is well-suited to the terroir and geography of Argentina with its high-altitude vineyards, sunny days, and cool nights that enable the grape to retain acidity and balance leading to delicious ripeness.

  • Argentina is the seventh largest wine producer in the world, with a vineyard surface of around surface of acres in 2021. (OIV, 2021)
  • Malbec accounts for 40% of red varieties cultivated in Argentina with 75% of Argentina’s Malbec produced there. (OIV, 2017) 
  • Most Malbec is produced in the province of Mendoza, where 85% of its planted surface area is Malbec grapes. (Wines of Argentina, 2023)
  • Malbec is also found in France (Cahors and Bordeaux regions, Loire Valley); Chile, USA, South Africa, and Australia.


The Argentina Malbec wine is known for its deep burgundy hue and full-bodied richness. Sips provide a robust alcohol experience, and substantial tannins with balanced acidity. It differs from French Malbec which tends to tannins with higher acidity, making it more suitable for hearty dining rather than sweet indulgences.

Argentina Malbec delivers dark fruit flavors (think cocoa or dark chocolate) and this taste experience makes it an excellent choice for dessert pairings. The texture and spice (vanilla, pepper) from oak aging, add complexity to the dessert course.

Exploring Regional Variations

Argentina’s diverse terroirs contribute to the regional variations in Malbec, each offering unique profiles perfect for dessert pairings. High-elevation areas, such as Mendoza, produce Malbecs with more acidity and havest tannins, which can complement the richness of chocolate-based desserts. In contrast, Malbecs from the Patagonia region tend to have a softer texture, pairing well with fruit tarts or creamy desserts.

  • Mendoza: High acidity, robust tannins, and suitable for chocolate which makes it ideal for desserts.
  • Patagonia: Softer texture, suitable for fruit tarts and creamy desserts.

When selecting a Malbec for dessert, consider the intensity of the wine in relation to the dessert’s sweetness and richness. A general guideline is to match the wine’s body with the dessert’s weight, ensuring a balanced and enjoyable experience.


The key to a successful dessert pairing lies in matching the wine’s sweetness with that of the dessert, ensuring a harmonious blend of flavors that enhances the overall enhanced experience. Argentina Malbec is often a great choice to pair with chocolate for several reasons:

  1. Flavor Profile

Malbec wines from Argentina typically have bold, fruity flavors with hints of dark fruit like plum, blackberry, and sometimes even cocoa or chocolate. These flavors can complement the taste of chocolate, enhancing its richnes..

  1. Tannins

Malbec wines usually have moderate to high tannin levels, which can help cut th.ough the sweetness of chocolate, preventing it from becoming overwhelming on the palate.

  1. Acidity

Malbecs from Argentina often have a balanced acidity that can provide a refreshing contrast to the richness of chocolate, cleansing the palate between bites.

  1. Versatility

Malbecs can range from medium to full-bodied, offering versatility in pairing with different types of chocolate. Whether it’s dark, milk, or white chocolate, there’s a Malbec that can complement its flavors.

  1. Regional Pairing

Malbec has become synonymous with Argentina, and the country’s cuisine often incorporates chocolate in various dishes and desserts. This regional connection can enhance the pairing experience, creating a sense of harmony between the essence of wine and food culture.

Malbec Enhances Desserts

  • Chocolate-based desserts: The cocoa or dark chocolate notes of Malbec harmonize with the intensity of chocolate.
  • Fruit-based desserts: The wine’s acidity and fruitiness can balance the sweetness of fruit desserts.
  • Cheese platters: Malbec pairs well with mature cheeses, adding a savory counterpoint to the meal’s finale.

The evolution of Malbec into a dessert wine reflects the dynamic nature of Argentina’s wine culture, embracing both tradition and innovation to delight the palates of wine enthusiasts around the globe.

Pairing Argentina Malbec with M&Ms can be a fun and enjoyable although it may not be a traditional pairing.

Why it works

1.       Contrast of Sweetness

 M&Ms are sweet, while Malbec tends to be dry or semi-dry. This sharp contrast can create an interesting interplay of flavors, with the wine’s acidity and tannins balancing out the sweetness of the candy.

2.       Texture

M&Ms have a crunchy candy shell with a chocolate center. The texture contrast between the crunchy shell and the smooth chocolate can add another layer of complexity to the pairing experience.

3.       Casual Enjoyment

Pairing Malbec with M&Ms is a casual and lighthearted way to enjoy both the wine and the candy. It’s perfect for relaxed gatherings, movie nights, or simply when you want to indulge in a playful snack.

The pairing of M&Ms with Argentina Malbec may seem unconventional, but it is grounded in the complementary flavors that both offer. Malbec, known for its boldness and fruit-forward profile, can harmonize with the sweetness and texture of M&Ms. This combination allows for a playful contrast that enhances the tasting experience.

  • Classic Milk Chocolate M&Ms: Their creamy texture and sweetness can soften the tannins of a robust Malbec.
  • Peanut M&Ms: The nuttiness pairs well with the oak notes often found in Malbec wines.
  • Adventurous Flavors: Flavors like caramel and pretzel introduce a complexity that can match the layered notes of the wine.

When indulging in this pairing, it’s important to consider the intensity of the wine and the M&M variety. A balance should be sought where neither overpowers the other, but rather, they work in tandem to elevate the flavors on the palate.

Taste Profiles: Finding Harmony

When pairing Argentina Malbec with M&Ms, the goal is to find a balance where both the wine and the chocolate enhance each other’s flavors. Malbec’s robust profile, with notes of dark fruit and a hint of spice, pairs wonderfully with the rich sweetness of M&Ms.

To achieve harmony, consider the intensity of the wine and the sweetness of the chocolate. Here’s a simple guide to help you match the taste profiles:

  • Classic Milk Chocolate M&Ms: Complement the fruitiness of Malbec without overpowering it.
  • Peanut M&Ms: The nuttiness can accentuate the earthy tones in the wine.
  • Peanut Butter M&Ms: A creamy texture that can soften the tannins of the Malbec.
  • Pretzel M&Ms: The saltiness can bring out unexpected nuances in the wine.
  • Caramel M&Ms: Rich caramel pairs with the wine’s complexity and can highlight its sweeter notes.

The key is to experiment with different combinations to discover which pairing delights your palate the most. Each variety of M&M can offer a unique experience when enjoyed with a glass of Malbec.

Pairing Wine Partner: Domaine Bousquet

Domaine Bousquet presents its 2022 LO CA USDA Organic Malbec, originating from the picturesque Tupungato, nestled within the Uco Valley of Mendoza, Argentina. With a mere 79 calories per 5 oz serving, this wine exemplifies the epitome of health-conscious indulgence. Embracing sustainability at its core, it proudly bears the certifications of Regenerative Organic and Ecocert approval.

Crafted with meticulous care, LO CA Malbec is harvested at an early stage and undergoes fermentation in stainless steel tanks. This method preserves the inherent varietal characteristics while amplifying its fruit-forward and expressive nature.

The legacy of Domaine Bousquet traces back to the Bousquet family’s roots in Carcassonne, France. In 1990, third-generation winemaker Jean Bousquet embarked on a journey to Argentina, captivated by the rugged beauty of the Gualtallary Valley. Situated high in the Tupungato district of the Uco Valley, this remote and arid landscape proved to be an ideal canvas for organic viticulture.

Driven by a shared vision of sustainability, Jean’s daughter Anne Bousquet, an economist, and her husband Labid Al Ameri, a successful trader, were drawn to the cause. Following a transformative trip to Argentina in 2002, the couple began investing in Domaine Bousquet.

In 2005, Al Ameri joined his father-in-law full-time, contributing to the construction of the winery. Anne continued her career as an economist until 2008 when she transitioned to join the family business. Their commitment culminated in their relocation to Tupungato in 2009 and the complete acquisition of Domaine Bousquet in 2011.

Today, Domaine Bousquet is a beacon of excellence, producing 4 million liters annually and exporting 95% of its volume to over 50 countries. Each bottle presents a harmonious blend of tradition, innovation, and sustainable stewardship.

About the Wine

LO CA means “crazy” in Spanish, and the wine delivers a low-calorie, low-alcohol, low-sugar, vegan, gluten-free, USDA-certified organic palate-pleasing wine experience.

The Uco Valley offers the Malbec grape a dry climate and phylloxera-resistant sandy soils. The grapes are farmed organically at Domaine Bousquet. The vineyards experience constant breezes from the Andes to the west and mitigate heat stress in this desert-like climate. The weather temperature differs from day to night and contributes to the enhanced aromatics. The sandy soil results in low fertility, desirable for vine stress, and ideal for good drainage. There is little rainfall; however, there is groundwater from Andes snowmelt and vital to vineyard irrigation. The roots of the organically grown vines penetrate deep, enabling greater access to water in times of drought. The organic farming protocols are better for the long-term enhancement of the local environment and the well-being of the people who tend the vines.


The varietals are a harmonious fusion of estate-grown and carefully sourced fruit from the Uco Valley. Displaying a deep violet hue, LO CA captivates with its intense bouquet of red and black fruits. Delve deeper to discover delicate notes of hibiscus, blood orange, and mountain herbs interwoven with a medium-bodied structure. A tantalizing swirl of berry jam and chalky acidity enwraps refined tannins, culminating in a light-bodied, fruit-forward experience.

Pair it effortlessly with chocolates and cheese to elevate any occasion. Join the global celebration of Malbec on April 17th, observed as International Malbec Day or World Malbec Day.

© Dr. Elinor Garely. This copyright article, including photos, may not be reproduced without written permission from the author.

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Dr. Elinor Garely - special to eTN and editor in chief,

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