Is Malbec Sweet? Tasting Notes of the Popular Red Wine

Last Updated on November 24, 2023 by Lydia Martin

Malbec wine is a bold and robust red wine that hails from the enchanting Malbec vines of Argentina. I’ve had the pleasure of exploring the world of wines, from Napa Valley to the Bordeaux region, and I can tell you that Malbec is pretty extraordinary.

However, those with a sweet tooth may find themselves wondering, ” Is Malbec sweet?”

Knowing whether or not a red wine is sweet or dry is also highly important if you’re considering pairing wine with your meals.

If you’re one of those curious cats, you’re lucky because I’ve got the answer for you.

Is Malbec Wine Considered A Sweet Wine?

Man Drinking Argentinian Malbec

No, Malbec wine is not considered a sweet red wine. On the contrary, Malbec wine’s flavor profile classifies it as a dry wine with an intense flavor profile.

It doesn’t doesn’t have a pronounced sweetness due to its low residual sugar content.

“Malbec: Where every sip is a journey through the vineyards of flavor.” – Liquor Laboratory 

Like Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, Experts in the red wine industry label Malbec as dry and jammy with a medium to full body, medium to high tannin levels, and medium acidity.

Some even lean into oak aging, with notes of cocoa, coffee, tobacco, leather, and black pepper, adding a touch of smokiness or spiciness to the red wine.

Read: Malbec vs Merlot

Malbec’s Flavor Profile


Malbec wines are known for being full-bodied red wines. As you take a sip, your taste buds will be treated to a burst of rich, dark fruit flavors.

Malbec also brings a touch of vanilla, a hint of tobacco, a dash of dark chocolate, and some oak. French Malbecs are more acidic and spicy, which can be attributed to their more extended aging period.

What’s fascinating about Malbec is its balance of medium acidity and moderate levels of tannins. It’s not too sharp or too bitter.

Serving Malbec with red meat, dark meat, poultry grilled vegetables, mushrooms, and soft, pungent cheeses like blue cheese, Gorgonzola, or Brie is an excellent idea, as its flavor profile goes exceptionally well with dishes with umami and savory flavors. [1]


Woman Drinking Wine

Malbec has an intense aroma of rich and dark fruit, like blackberry and red plum.

Hints of vanilla, sweet tobacco, dark chocolate, smoked paprika, and oak add complexity and depth to the bouquet.


When you pour yourself a glass of full-bodied Malbec wine, the first thing that catches your eye is its deep purple color. Malbec grapes are medium to thick-skinned and boast a deep purple hue.

A Malbec grape is a shade lighter than Cabernet Sauvignon but not as sweet as Italian Chianti.

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Malbec wine has a velvety texture and a smoky finish that lingers on your palate until you’re ready to take the next sip. Unlike Cabernet Sauvignon, it doesn’t have a super long finish.

Malbec’s Sweetness Level

Like Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec wines typically fall into the category of dry or off-dry, which means they are not considered sweet wines.

Instead, Malbec wines are known for their bold red fruit flavors, which include black currant, black cherry, and plum, accompanied by intriguing notes of spice and tobacco.

However, Malbec wines can have some variations in their sweetness level depending on where the Malbec grapes are grown and how ripe they are during the time of harvest.

Lastly, some winemakers may stop the fermentation process early or leave a bit of residual sugar to make the wine taste more off-dry and sweet. [2]

Malbec Wines’ Sweetness Compared

Pouring Wine on a Glass


Merlot and French Malbec have a few intriguing similarities in their flavor profiles. After all, Malbec was primarily used as a blending grape to make Bordeaux during the olden times.

Both wines boast rich, dark, fruity flavors, like plump cherries, juicy blackberries, and succulent plums.

However, Merlot wines tend to have lower tannin levels compared to Malbec, which gives it a softer, smoother taste. This is perfect for someone who appreciates a red wine, like Cabernet Sauvignon, that’s less intense.

Like Malbec wine, there are subtle hints of vanilla, tobacco, and other earthy flavors on the palate to add complexity.


Shiraz, also known as Syrah, boasts the same dark, fruity flavors that Malbec brings. However, Shiraz takes things up a notch.

Shiraz wines are known for their heavy body and high levels of tannins, even more so than Malbec. This results in a wine with an intense and spicy flavor profile.

Both Shiraz and Malbec fare poorly in the sweetness department – Shiraz leans towards a spicier and more intense experience, which means Malbec is the sweeter wine by comparison.

Tawny Port

Tawny Port is a type of fortified wine with diverse flavors. Unlike Malbec, it’s known for its fruity and robust nature and can even be categorized as a dessert wine due to its natural sweetness.

“Malbec is the red wine connoisseur’s delight… a timeless favorite among enthusiasts.” – Robert Parker, Wine Critic

Its unique sweetness comes from its aging process and the type of grape blend used.


Does Malbec taste sweet?

No, Malbec does not taste sweet. On the contrary, wine drinkers love it for its bold and rich flavors, with dark fruit notes like blackberry and plum, accompanied by hints of spice and tobacco.

While there can be some variation in sweetness levels among different brands and the type of Malbec grapes used, the majority falls into the dry or off-dry category.

Is Malbec good for beginners?

Absolutely! Malbec is recommended for wine beginners looking for something more savory than sweet.

Its approachable flavor profile, softer tannins, and bright acidity make it an excellent choice for those just starting to explore red wines. It’s also the type of wine that can be enjoyed with food pairings like leaner red meats or cheeses.

Is Malbec delicate or intense?

Malbec wines are more intense as opposed to delicate. They are known for their bold and robust characteristics and spicy notes. Its level of intensity can vary depending on factors such as the winemaking process and the region where the Malbec grapes are produced and harvested.

In Conclusion

So, to sum everything up, Malbec wines are generally not considered sweet red wines or dessert wines. On the contrary, this full-bodied red wine falls under the dry type, with little to no residual sugar after its production process.

The rich and bold flavors of dark fruits like blackberry and plum and hints of spice and tobacco create a delicious wine that leans more toward savory than sweet. This is the perfect wine for pairing with many savory dishes.

And while there may be some variation in sweetness levels among different Malbec wines, most fall into the dry or off-dry category.



Lydia Martin

Lydia Martin hails from Redmond, Washington, where you’ll find some of the best cocktail bars and distilleries that offer a great mix of local drinks. She used to work as a bar manager in Paris and is a self-taught mixologist whose passion for crafting unique cocktails led her to create Liquor Laboratory. Lydia can whip up a mean Margarita in seconds! Contact at [email protected] or learn more about us here or feel free to give Lydia a tip.

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