Budget Wine: Skeleton Malbec Mendoza 2013

skeleton malbecThere is a debate among wine critics about whether we should write negative reviews. Most say they don’t have time to waste on bad wine. But film, art, and music critics write negative reviews and so do consumer guides. Negative reviews don’t take that much time to write—how many minutes does it take to write “it sucks”? And why are wines above criticism?

I was enthusiastic about this wine because I loved their Grüner Veltliner,  which I reviewed here. But we all know the fact a winery does one thing well is no indication that their whole lineup will impress. I know nothing and can find out very little about this winery. I suspect they buy grapes on the open market; and the fact that Argentinean Malbec has been in demand as the new “hot” grape for a few years now may mean only inferior grapes are available at a good price. That’s just speculation but it would explain this mediocre wine.

Simple black cherry on the nose with some earth notes that provoke mild interest. But the palate is meager and watery with muddy flavors and sour acidity that enters the picture early and monopolizes the finish. At least it is very dry. No standard signs of a flaw; just cheap grapes. Drinkable but you can do much better for less money. But if you like the label, well then…

Score: 81

Price: $10 (1 liter bottle)

Alc: 13%


  1. You make a good point. Negative critiques are a big part of every art world. I’d rather, though, spend my time lifting up wines that I’m enthusiastic about than putting down wines that aren’t up to snuff. There are so many wines out there, and many from small wineries that need and deserve the boost of a positive review. I’d rather do that. Maybe the difference comes down to quantity. In one week, a movie critic might see ten movies, but a wine critic could taste through 300 wines, too many to write all the reviews, so just write the positives. Also, the wine industry seems to have a spirit of community to it that I haven’t seen in other industries. It’s part of what I love about it, the rising tide that lifts all boats and all that. Thanks for another thought-provoking post.

    1. Hi Foxress,

      A rising tide won’t keep a leaky boat afloat. I certainly would not want to spend time seeking out bad wines. But when I come across one I don’t see any reason to withhold judgment, unless it’s a small winery struggling to get off the ground.

  2. I just bought this, falling prey to the “cool” label. I’m no connoisseur of wines, but I have learned enough to know which wines just plain suck. I have a glass of this Skeleton Malbec sitting in front of me now, appropriately chilled and poured through my Vinturi, hoping for the best while immediately searching for any reviews online. So far, this wine sucks. Your review is absolutely spot on. This stuff is watery in the glass and in my mouth and an unappealing, muddy reddish-brown color. It smells like stale chocolate to me with very little depth or layering of any flavors except black cherry cola. The dry tongue-scraping after every sip is this wine’s only redeeming factor. Great review, spot on and I couldn’t agree more. The guy at the liquor store said this was good, so I was excited to try it. Total disappointment. Now I’m just sad that I spent $11 and change for this.

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