Tempranillo vs. Malbec: The Untold Similarities, Differences & Selection Criteria

Last Updated on August 1st, 2023

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So you’re curious about the specific comparisons of Tempranillo and Malbec? Aren’t they basically the same wine? Which one carries more alcohol content? What makes them different? Let’s jump into the answers you may be seeking!


Is Tempranillo The Same As Malbec?

Just because Tempranillo and Malbec are both red wines that share notes of tobacco and pair with the same meats doesn’t mean they are the same wine. 

They both have different parent grapes and are based on two different origins, which separates them both from each other.

A wine glass with red wine in it near a bottle - Tempranillo vs. Malbec: Similarities, Differences & Selection Criteria

What Is Similar About Tempranillo And Malbec?

Setting aside their differences, Tempranillo and Malbec do indeed hold a light amount of similarities, more than just their shared note of tobacco. These include style, food pairings, and alcohol content. 

Tempranillo and Malbec are most commonly made into dry-style wines; that both compliment meals made with lamb and steak. They also hold quite similar levels of alcohol content, listed below.


What Is The Difference Between Tempranillo And Malbec?

This duo holds many unique differences that set them apart from each other, including grape specifics, origin, notes, and recommended meal pairings. Not to mention the duo also has a different parent grape lineage.

Tempranillo is a red wine made from a black grape variety that originates in Spain. Its cherry, fig, and dill notes are known to compliment Mexican cuisine. This wine goes well with other food elements, such as lamb, steak, burgers, baked pasta, lasagna, and corn. 

Malbec is found to have its own unique set of elements. Malbec is a red wine made from purple grapes originating in France. 

Its notes of red plum, blackberry, vanilla, and cocoa complement a variety of foods, including but not limited to foods like bell peppers, mushrooms, potatoes, shallots, mozzarella, and provolone. 


Which One Is Sweeter Or Drier Than The Other?

Due to its more savory dill and cedar notes, Tempranillo is considered drier than a Malbec. On the other hand, Malbec is considered to be sweeter due to the fact that it carries notes of vanilla and cocoa. 


Which One Has More Alcohol Content?

Although the alcohol content of both Tempranillo and Malbec line up very closely, it’s the Tempranillo that might have a slight chance of having a higher alcohol content. 

Depending on the climate of the region of production, Malbec’s alcohol content can range from 13-14% by volume, while Tempranillo can range from 13.5-15% alcohol by volume.


How Do I Choose Between Tempranillo And Malbec?

Although both of these wines are great for those, who prefer a red with tobacco notes, if you enjoy a more dry, savory wine, you might prefer the Tempranillo over the Malbec. 

However, if you enjoy slightly sweeter tasting wine with light fruity notes, you will more likely prefer the Malbec. Overall, the best thing you can do is to just try them both on different occasions and decide for yourself via the experience.

Final Thoughts On Tempranillo And Malbec

Although not the same, Tempranillo and Malbec both hold similarities to one another, including their notes of tobacco, common style, and similar food pairings. 

They both also have strong differences in origin, grape specifics, and more! Tempranillo is considered to not only be the drier of the duo but also carries a slightly higher average of alcohol content.