Many people first try a wine after selecting it randomly from a restaurant's list. If it's memorable, they search for it at their local wine store.

Many people first try a wine after selecting it randomly from a restaurant's list. If it's memorable, they search for it at their local wine store.

Malbec is one of those memorable varietals, said Michael Wilson, owner of MacLaren Wines in Bexley.

The grape is fairly new on the market, said Wilson, who considers malbec among his favorite wines. Maybe that's because for $10 or $20, you get a lush, jammy, low-tannin taste.

Malbec grapes originated in southern France and were long used as one of the six grapes in a Bordeaux blend. They've been taken up with great success in Argentina, where they've become one of the country's trademark varietals and produce much lower levels of tannins.

"They're strong, they're accessible - you don't have to put them away for 10 years," Wilson said. "And the stories of the wineries down there, they're at a high altitude, and it's almost like a desert."

The region of Mendoza, near the country's border with Chile, produces over half of all the wine that's manufactured in Argentina. All of the bottles Wilson suggests below were grown there.

Malbec

Flavors: Dark, inky, jammy and velvety

Pairs well with: Red meat, barbecue, chili, sausage and red-sauced or spicy dishes

Who'll enjoy it: Red-wine lovers, especially those who are into cabernet or merlot and looking for something with lighter tannins


Altos Las Hormigas Malbec (2008)

Region: Mendoza, Argentina

Cost: $12

Michael Wilson's advice: "This is probably one of the best-sellers. They're fabulous, and they're not that pricey. They don't have quite the tannin in them that young cabernets have, so they're a little bit more approachable."


Budini Malbec (2008)

Region: Mendoza, Argentina

Cost: $12

Michael Wilson's advice: "This is a really good one. You can get some expensive ones, but for under $20, you get these big, dark wines that want a big, steak-type meal with gravy and all the fixings."


Crios Malbec (2008)

Region: Mendoza, Argentina

Cost: $16

Michael Wilson's advice: "This is one of my favorites, although I haven't found one I haven't liked. Oh boy, is it dry - and refreshing."