April 17th was designated as Malbec World Day in 2011 by Wines of Argentia to commemorate the day in 1853, when president Domingo Faustino Sarmiento declared his mission to revive and expand the Argentinian wine market. Sarmiento sought the expertise of a French soil expert, Michel Pouget, who brought over a selection of vines, including some Malbec. In France, Malbec was mainly used for blending, because the thin-skinned grapes were highly susceptible to frost, disease and rot. However, in the drier climate of Mendoza, Argentina, the Malbec vines thrived. The warmth in Argentina brought out a more fruit-forward flavor in the wines, in contrast to the strong tannins of the French Malbecs. For many years, the Malbec varietal was only common within Argentina, but in the early 2000s, the popularity started to spread due to its easy drinkability and bargain price. Malbec wine is often described as both juicy, with flavors of cherries, plums, and berries (blackberries/raspberries), and bold, with flavors like smoke/tobabbo, leather, and black pepper. Despite their thin skin, Malbec grapes are a dark purple color, which leads to nearly opaque wine with a deep purple/red color. Malbecs pair well with earthy or smokey foods (BBQ anyone?) or strong flavors, like funky cheese. Happy Malbec World Day!