The answer is, 14 glasses of Malbec with the same lunch. This happened at a master class presented by Wines of Argentina in honor of the third annual Malbec World Day April 17.
The "students" were handed a glass of Finca Las Nubes Rosé of Malbec 2011 as they arrived. This dry rosé was made by José Luis Mounier at a high altitude winery in the Cafayate Valley in northern Argentina.
The rest of the wines came in three flights, poured into glasses that formed a cheery crowd behind the lunch plates. The first flight, at the top, included the 2012 Finca Flichman Reserva Malbec 2012, the 2011 Lagarde Malbec, the 2010 Alamos Winery Selección Malbec and the 2010 Ricardo Santos Malbec.
You wouldn't mind having any of these on your table, especially because the suggested retail prices are $20 or less, making them great buys. At $12.99, the Finca Flichman was the lowest-priced wine at the tasting. Founded in 1890, this is one of Argentina's oldest wineries.
You may see Alamos Malbec in markets for less than the Selección, which is $20, but don't get excited. It's a different wine at a lower price point.
But they had to make way for the next round, composed of the 2010 Finca El Origen Gran Reserva Malbec (at right), the 2010 Don Miguel Gascón Reserva Malbec, the 2008 Navarro Correas Alegoría Malbec, and the 2011 Domingo Hermanos Domingo Molina M2 Malbec.
The Domingo wine represents the Cafayate Valley and the Rupestre Valley in Salta in the north. The other wines at the tasting were from Mendoza, where the first grape cuttings were planted in 1853.
To go with these richer and more expensive wines (the Domingo Molina M2 is $35), lunch escalated into a hearty plate of chicken paillard with Swiss chard bread pudding, wild mushrooms and walnut butter (above).
The final round brought on the priciest of the wines, the 2008 Renacer Malbec ($70), which is a limited edition wine aged two years in new French oak and then 6 months in the bottle. At 15%, it was the highest in alcohol in this group.
The others were the 2009 Nieto Senetiner Nieto Reserva Malbec followed by three blends: the 2010 Salentein Numina Malbec Blend (61 % Malbec, 21% Cabernet Sauvignon and smaller amounts of Merlot, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc); the 2009 Luca Wines Beso de Dante Malbec Blend (60% Malbec, the rest Cabernet Sauvignon), and the 2008 Familia Zuccardi Zeta Malbec Blend (73% Malbec and 27% Cabernet Sauvignon).
At $45, the Zuccardi Zeta was the second highest-priced wine at the tasting. The Nieto Reserva sneaked into this round at only $14.99.
Sated with wine and food and hardly able to touch the platter of cookies that served as dessert, the tasters had to sit back and agree with Sommelier Gaiser, who said of Malbec, "Whatever you do to it, you really can't change its soul."