Petit Verdot vs Malbec


Malbec vs Petit Verdot are fun wines to compare because they come from the same region and have a long history together.

Petit Verdot has a fuller body, much higher tannins, and a signature floral note. Malbec has a medium body, medium aroma and flavor intensity, soft tannins, and blueberry.

TL;DR: If you like the soft, approachable nature of Malbec, you might not care for Petit Verdot’s more structured profile.

Here’s what you need to know about Petit Verdot vs Malbec wines.

Petit Verdot Basics: A Robust Companion

petit verdot vs malbec - what does petit verdot wine taste like infographic

Petit Verdot, originating from Bordeaux as well, provides a bold and robust experience. While historically used as a blending grape, Petit Verdot has gained recognition for its individual character.

Its flavor profile encompasses dark fruit, such as blackberry and plum, coupled with hints of spice and a touch of floral aromatics.

Fun Wine Fact: Petit Verdot, translating to “little green,” alludes to the late ripening of its small, thick-skinned berries.

Malbec Basics: Argentine Elegance

petit verdot vs malbec - what does malbec taste like infographic

Malbec, a true Argentine wine, offers an accessible red wine for all tables.

With origins in France, it found its true home in Argentina. Malbec showcases a distinct character with bold fruit flavors and a lush mouthfeel. Malbec’s medium to full body and flavors of ripe blackberries and plum pair well with grilled meats and hearty dishes. Its flavor profile includes dark fruits, cocoa, and sometimes a hint of vanilla, reflecting the hand of the winemaker.

Fun Wine Fact: Malbec gained significant popularity when it was introduced to Argentina in the 19th century. Today, Malbec has gained recognition beyond its Argentine origins, with vineyards in regions such as France, the United States, and Australia.

Wine Comparison: Petit Verdot vs Malbec Wine

Here’s a quick side-by-side comparison that covers the most common styles of Petit Verdot and Malbec wines.

CharacteristicsPetit VerdotMalbec
HueDeep purple to almost blackDeep purple to inky black
ColorRedRed to purple
AromasDark fruit, violet, herbalBlackberry, plum, black cherry, blueberry
TanninsHighMedium – soft
AcidMedium to Medium PlusMedium
Alcohol (%)14-15.5%13-15%
BodyFullMedium to full
IntensityMedium Plus to HighPronounced
Key Growing RegionsFrance (Bordeaux), Spain, United StatesArgentina, France (Cahors)
Classic PairingsGrilled meats, game, aged cheesesSteak, barbecue, grilled vegetables
Price Range$20-$50$10-$30

Petit Verdot Wine Profile

  • Sweetness: Petit Verdot wines are dry.
  • Alcohol: Petit Verdot wines typically have a higher alcohol content, ranging from around 14% to 15.5% ABV.
  • Body: Petit Verdot is known for its full body and robust structure, fuller than Malbec.
  • Acid: Petit Verdot has medium plus acid, slightly more than Malbec wine.
  • Tannins: Petit Verdot showcases firm and gripping tannins, adding to its powerful and bold character, much more pronounced than Malbec.
  • Flavors: The flavor profile often includes dark fruit notes like blackberry and plum, accompanied by hints of herbs and purple floral undertones.

Helpful Tip: Pop over to this 30-second tasting tip to learn how to taste wine tannins.

Malbec Wine Profile

  • Sweetness: Malbec wines lean towards dryness, offering a range of dry to off-dry styles.
  • Alcohol: Malbec wines typically have a moderate to high alcohol content, similar to Petit Verdot, ranging from around 13% to 15% ABV.
  • Body: Malbec is known for its medium to full body.
  • Tannins: Malbec showcases moderate tannin levels, lower than Petit Verdot.
  • Acid: Malbec has medium acid levels, a little lower than Petit Verdot.
  • Flavor and Aromas: Malbec has medium to pronounced intensity on the nose and palate, with blackberry, blueberry, plum, cocoa, and sometimes a hint of vanilla.

Helpful Tip: Both Petit Verdot and Malbec often have oak used during winemaking. Here’s what oak contributes to wine.

Are Petit Verdot and Malbec Similar?

Both Petit Verdot and Malbec are rich red wines that have dark fruit flavors. Both wines are often oaked, with mocha, coffee, and chocolate notes. They both have similar alcohol levels. Both are used in blends with Cabernet Sauvignon.

What’s the Difference Between Petit Verdot and Malbec?

Petit Verdot tends to have a fuller body and more intense tannins compared to the smoother and softer Malbec. While Malbec showcases a distinctive blueberry note, Petit Verdot leans towards herbal and purple floral notes.

Petit Verdot vs Malbec: Food Pairings and Serving Temperature

petit verdot vs malbec - meat dinner
  • Petit Verdot: Petit Verdot, with its robust structure and intense dark fruit profile, pairs exceptionally well with hearty dishes like grilled steaks and rich stews.
  • Malbec Food Pairing: Malbec, with its plush mouthfeel and ripe fruit notes, pairs exceptionally well with grilled steaks, roasted vegetables, and barbecued ribs.

Both Petit Verdot and Malbec wines are best enjoyed at slightly below room temperature. Place them in a cool, dark place for a while before serving. You may need to decant them for 10-30 minutes if they seem closed.

Discover More:
Red Wine and Cheese Pairing: What You Need to Know
Quick Guide to Food and Wine Pairing

Which Is More Expensive: Petit Verdot vs Malbec?

petit verdot vs malbec wine comparison - wine store shelf

It’s natural to wonder about costs when comparing to wines, like Petit Verdot and Malbec. Overall, Malbec is less expensive. It’s a more popular wine and grows well in regions where there are lower production costs (i.e., Argentina).

Malbec Cost

  • Entry-level Malbec wines also fall within accessible price ranges, usually ranging from $10 to $20 per bottle. These wines are known for their rich fruit flavors that forefront the plush mouthfeel, perfect for casual sipping and pairing.
  • On the premium side, Malbec will have more intense fruit flavors. You’ll immediately notice just how pronounced they can be. Premium Malbec wines sourced from renowned regions can have wine prices of $25 to $30 or more.

Fun Wine Fact: Premium Malbec from Argentina is often less expensive than premium wines from France thanks to favorable exchange rates and more affordable labor costs during production. Take advantage of this factoid to find outstanding bottles of Malbec wine!

Petit Verdot Cost

  • Entry-level Petit Verdot wines are a little more expensive, around $20 to $30 per bottle. These wines provide a robust and flavorful experience at a reasonable cost.
  • On the premium side, Petit Verdot from boutique producers commands prices ranging from $35 to $50 or higher. The investment often reflects the craftsmanship and intensity that these wines bring to the table.

Which Is Better: Petit Verdot or Malbec?

If you appreciate a softer, velvety red wine, Malbec is the better choice. If you enjoy layered herbal and floral notes in a fuller-bodied, tannic red wine, then Petit Verdot is the better option. If you’re on a tight budget, then Malbec is a better choice because it’s less expensive.

Personal Note: Petit Verdot isn’t a beginner’s red wine. Many of my friends who aren’t super into wine dislike the herbal and floral profile of Petit Verdot and those higher tannins. Malbec’s the better choice if you’re new to wines and dislike tannins.

Final Thoughts – Malbec or Petit Verdot?

Both Malbec and Petit Verdot are curious wines to explore because they enjoy a shared winemaking history. Both used in Bordeaux blends, both contributing different qualities.

I’m a big fan of side-by-side tastings to tease out the different wine characteristics. A great way to get started with these two wines is to do a side-by-side comparison.

Grab 2 bottles of similarly priced Petit Verdot and Malbec. Invite over a few friends and enjoy together exploring these two classic reds.

Thirsty for More?

I’m a big believer in doing side-by-side tastings to boost your wine knowledge. Here’s how to host your own wine tasting for beginners.

Check out this post on Cabernet Sauvignon vs Merlot, another popular red wine, along with Cabernet Sauvignon vs Malbec, and Shiraz vs Merlot.

You should be able to find delicious wines at every price point. Check out this post on how to find great wines under $50.

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