Study Guides > Varieties > Malbec

Signature Styles & Characteristics

Although any grape can be interpreted in innovative and at times, outlying styles, the below chart/graphic represents the preponderance of what you will find in California winemakers producing.

  • Dryness/Residual Sugar

    Malbec: 100 percent on a scale from Dry to of Dryness/Residual Sugar.

  • Acid (potential)

    Malbec: 70 percent on a scale from Low to High of Acid (potential).

  • Alcohol (potential)

    Malbec: 85 percent on a scale from Low to High of Alcohol (potential).

  • Body (weight on palate)

    Malbec: 90 percent on a scale from Light to Full of Body (weight on palate).

  • Texture

    Malbec: 100 percent on a scale from Gritty and astringent or round and smooth to of Texture.

  • Tannin

    Malbec: 70 percent on a scale from Low to High of Tannin.


Influenced by climate, terroir, clonal selection and winemaking.

  • Red Fruit


    Blackberry, mulberry, boysenberry, black currant (cassis), red/ black plum, blueberry, black/red cherry, black/red raspberry, pomegranate, citrus rind (orange, mandarin), prune, raisin
  • Red Floral


    Licorice (red/black), black/green olive, fennel, rhubarb, tomato leaf, cola nut
  • Red Floral


    Violet, lavender, rose, hyacinth, mint/eucalyptus, oregano, laurel, thyme, sage, rosemary, green/black tea, sarsaparilla, pipe tobacco or cigar box
  • Red Earth


    Dusty earth, humus, mushroom, gravel, graphite (pencil box)
  • Red Wood

    Wood (Oak)

    Nutmeg, coconut, coffee bean, mocha, milk and dark chocolate, toast, cocoa, molasses, walnut, maple, vanilla, cinnamon, caramel, sawdust or cut wood, paprika, smoke
  • Red Other


    Berry yogurt, black pepper, smoked meat, soy, leather


2 to 30 years, pedigree-dependent; the best bottles can live even longer