Picture the scene: You're out on the town and in the mood for a delicious glass of wine. Scanning a lengthy list, you might have a general preference for red or white -- whichever best matches the sofa pattern when spilled -- but after that, things are a bit fuzzier. Not to mention, you didn't even take high school French, and it's been at least 20 years since you saw Sideways. Placing a simple order starts to feel like performance art.
Suddenly, you're sweating while also battling cottonmouth -- how is that even physiologically possible? You're anxiously game-planning for when the server returns: Just say, House Red. Try mumbling something that resembles "sauvignon." Maybe point at the list and pray the waiter thinks your finger is touching something less than $15 a glass...
Take a breath. It's easy to overthink or to complicate wine. It's the O.G. of libation snobbery. But, like with craft beer or high-end cocktails, the most important rule is this:
If you like the taste, drink it.
Sunday is World Malbec Day and -- for all their silliness -- "world" or "national" days present the perfect opportunity to try out a new taste and learn whether or not you like it. Here are some quick notes to help you plan ahead, start developing a confident order and drop some charming banter on your fellow diners.
Malbec (Mahl-bek) -- This one's straightforward: "I'm going to the mall to get the new Beck C.D.," she said in 1994.
In the wine world, this is a versatile term regarding aromas and flavors. Malbec is full-bodied, but an easy-drinker and a great red for beginners. Younger versions are milder, and aged ones tend to be a bit more flavorful (and typically more expensive). It's known as a populist wine of the people. In fact, Vinepair says:
"Some people love to call Malbec a working man's Merlot ... Malbec is the guy who rides the Harley to Merlot's guy that drives the Vespa."
Depending on the climate of where it's grown, its flavors range from black cherry to raspberry, plum and blackberry.
Perhaps not critical to a beginner's enjoyment, but a bit of fun trivia: Malbec grapes were originally grown in France, but the fruit doesn't thrive there, so vineyards traditionally stuck to small crops used mostly in blends. That all changed when it was first introduced to Argentina in 1868. Today, the South American country accounts for more than 75 percent of Malbec's global acreage. High altitudes and shifts from high to low temperatures are the Malbec grape's friend.
It should be served cool, a little bit below room temperature, but definitely not chilled or iced.
In a word: Meat. Malbec holds its own against many spicy Thai, Mexican and, naturally, Argentinian dishes, not to mention boldly marinated ribs, wings, steak and barbecue. Don't just take our word for it.