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Interview Karen Wtzel

Updated: May 27, 2022

“My love of wine, and enthusiasm to teach others inspired me to pursue a career in the Wine Industry, where I am fortunate to have built a life-long career doing what I love.”

MB - How would you define the key reasons that make Argentinian Malbec wines so unique and popular around the world?

KW -Argentine Malbec is unique for many reasons. Most notably the "terroir" where it is grown. Mendoza is the epicenter for Malbec and it is primarily the effect of the Andes Mountains that make it so special. The Andes Mountains not only provides the altitude of Mendoza, but also works as both a natural air conditioner. In addition, the mountains provide a rainshadow effect, protecting the region from inclement weather patterns coming in from the west. Together these factors provide exceptional grape growing conditions.

The popularity of Argentine Malbec is driven by its crowd-pleasing style, versatility with food and its approachable price.

MB - What characterizes a glass of Argentinean Malbec for you?

KW- As with all wines, Argentine Malbec varies by region and winemaking style but, in general, it typically offers jammy aromas and flavors of black cherry, ripe plum and black pepper spice, along with oak notes of mocha and vanilla, finishing with soft, smooth tannin

MB- What is the Malbec trend today and what style is famous within the new consumers?

KW- While the jammy, fruit forward style of Malbec remains wildly popular, there is an emerging trend of a more restrained style. Winemakers are picking a bit earlier, preserving vibrant acidity and using less oak, leading to a lighter, fresh style with bright fruit and lower alcohol.

MB- What style of Malbec do you personally prefer?

KW -My taste falls somewhere in between the jammy, rich style and the new trend toward a fresher, more restrained style.

MB - What is your favorite pairing with a Malbec?

KW- What first comes to mind is Argentine BBQ and roasted meats, but it also compliments flavorful, well-seasoned grilled or roasted chicken, smoked salmon and roasted, earthy root vegetable dishes.


With over 30 years in the wine industry, Karen has broad-ranged experience in many aspects of the wine & spirits business. She is a certified WSET Educator and has earned her WSET Level 3 in Wine & Spirits, as well as WSET Level 2 in Spirits. She has also achieved expert certifications for Napa Valley and American wines. Today, Karen is a WSET Instructor for the Napa Valley Wine Academy as well as their resident Wine Industry Career Coach. She also hosts the career-focused Wine, Work & Passion podcast, authors the Wine Industry Career Series blog, and consults for many prestigious wineries.

An accomplished educator, public speaker and corporate trainer, Karen brings her knowledge and experience to life in ways that are engaging, effective and entertaining.

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