Malbec Vs Cabernet Sauvignon

When it comes to red wine, there are lots of different varieties and it can get a bit confusing. Many people use Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon interchangeably, but are they the same?

Malbec Vs Cabernet Sauvignon

What makes them different? And which one is better? Keep reading to find out more.

What Is Malbec?

Malbec is a full bodied red wine with a dark color and bold, fruity flavors. The most prominent flavors are blackberry, plum and cherry. You will also pick up notes of tobacco and a distinctive smokiness to the wine.

What Is Cabernet Sauvignon?

Cabernet Sauvignon is also a full bodied red wine that is known for having a dark red color. It has very noticeable flavors of plum and black cherries along with blackberry. It also has notes of warm spice and vanilla, with hints of licorice and black pepper.

What Are The Main Similarities Between Malbec And Cabernet Sauvignon?

There are several main similarities between Malbec and Sauvignon Cabernet. This means that there are plenty of circumstances where you could serve either wine.

  • Origin – Both of these wines were originally made in France using French grapes. More specifically, they both originated in the Bordeaux wine region of France.
  • Body – Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon are both full-bodied red wines which means that they are quite viscous and feel heavier in your mouth.
  • Flavor – Each wine has a different flavor profile but there are some similarities between these two wines. They are both known for having bold flavors with strong notes of dark fruits.
  • Color – Both wines are dark red in color which makes them very appealing as you pour them into the glass.
  • Alcohol Content – Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon both tend to have an ABV of 13.5 to 15% which makes them quite strong. This is because the grapes are grown in warmer climates and so produce more sugar. This means that there is more sugar to ferment, creating a higher alcohol content. Other wines with similar alcohol content include pinot noir and zinfandel.

What Are The Main Differences Between Malbec And Cabernet Sauvignon?

Here are some of the main differences between Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon.

  • Growing Regions – Both grapes originated in France but are now grown in various regions. Malbec is most commonly grown in Argentina. Large amounts are also grown in Chile, Australia and South Africa. Malbec grapes grown in California are usually used for blending. Many people agree that the best Cabernet Sauvignon is grown in Bordeaux, but a lot of it is also grown and made in California. Other growing regions include New Zealand and Chile.
  • Grape – Cabernet Sauvignon is a naturally occurring hybrid between the cabernet grape and the sauvignon grape. This variety did not start growing until the 1600s. Malbec is not a hybrid grape and has been growing for much longer.
  • Price – Malbec is often considered a cheaper alternative to Cabernet Sauvignon. It tends to be more affordably priced.
  • Flavor – Whilst these wines share prominent flavors of dark fruits, the other tasting notes are quite different. Many people say that Cabernet Sauvignon has an earthiness to it, and a touch of green in the flavor such as asparagus and bell peppers. It also has hints of black pepper. Malbec is more spicy and warm, with a smoky tobacco flavor.
  • Sweetness – Cabernet Sauvignon is a very dry wine. This means that it has very little residual sweetness. Malbec is a medium sweet wine which means that there is more unfermented sugar left in the wine to impact the flavor.
  • Tannins – Cabernet Sauvignon has higher tannins than Malbec, which gives it more of a bitter taste.
  • Acidity – Malbec has fairly low acidity whereas Cabernet Sauvignon has high acidity.

Should You Choose Malbec Or Cabernet Sauvignon?

Now that you understand the similarities and differences between Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon, which one should you choose (Also check out Super Tuscan Vs. Cabernet Sauvignon)? It depends on personal preference, but also on the occasion.

If you are pairing the wine with food then Malbec tends to go with a wider variety of dishes. Not only does Malbec pair well with red meat, it also works with chicken, salmon and vegetarian meals. However, Cabernet Sauvignon has a higher acidity.

This means it is ideal for cutting through the richness of creamy or buttery sauces, and it also balances and complements the acidity of tomato based sauces.

Cabernet Sauvignon tends to be more expensive, so you might want to consider buying this wine for a special occasion and drinking Malbec as a more regular, weeknight wine.


Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon have a lot of similarities but there are some important differences that you need to consider.

Sarah Perez
Scroll to Top