When it comes to the world of food and wine pairings, I think Mexican food is regarded as the common cold. Everyone gets it, but know one knows what to do with it. There are the standard offerings that often appear alongside Mexican fare: Beer, tequila, Maalox. But what about wine? Being from California, I’ve had my fair share of Mexican food. Good
Mexican food. I’ve also had the good fortune to stuff my face in the actual country of Mexico. But it took a fateful evening many years ago, an evening filled with home-cooked Mexican fare, to actually pair Mexican food with wine. I don’t know what took me so long.
I’m going to try and breach a little barrier here with this post. That’s right, Wine Welfare is making a difference in the world (yeah right). Forget about war, famine, health care and oil spills. Let’s pair some wine with tacos!
We’re going to structure this like a Tacqueria menu. By the way, when I say tacos I mean real tacos and not Taco Bell. I’m talking onions, cilantro, nuclear salsa (the watery kind, not chunky) and corn tortillas:
- Sparkling Wines/Champagnes
The sweetness can combat the heat (works with Thai food, right?) or bubbles can work with the onions. Kill 2 birds with one stone by pairing a Moscato d’ASti or maybe even some Vinho Verde. Squeeze a little lime on your tacos and you’re all set.
BEEF TACOS – Ground Beef (how dare you), Shredded Beef or Carne Asada:
- Pinot Blanc
- Pinot Noir
- Light red table wine
The whites would actually work best with the carne asada since it’s generally marinated with some kind of citrus and that would help match the acidity of the wine. Leave the reds for the the ground beef or steak for obvious reasons.
PORK TACOS (the Holy Grail):
- Pinot Noir
- Dry Riesling
I’ve actually tried all three of these varietals with pork tacos. While they were all good, the Pinot actually stood out the best; a freaking fiesta in my boca. There’s just something about slow-cooked pork that works well with the strawberry and black pepper flavors of a good Pinot.
FISH TACOS (any kind):
- Pinot Blanc
- Chenin Blanc
- Sparkling Wine/Champagne
This one seems like a no-brainer, but what you have to remember is that tacos are no different to pair with wine than any other food. All ingredients have to be accounted for. With fish tacos, odds are you’re going to get some tomatoes, onions, green cabbage and some sort of white sauce. I mention the Grenache because I’ve actually tried it with halibut fish tacos and it was delicious, because of the fish mixed with the tomatoes. Strange, right? Other light red wines would work, too.
We hope this post has made you a bit more comfortable pairing some Mexican food with wine. There is no reason for all you winos to be afraid to head out to your favorite Mexican place anymore. You can go out again! Praise the Lord! Anyway, don’t feel odd showing up to that taco stand with a bottle under your arm. You may get some looks, but be brave. Do a shot of reposado first if necessary. Show people that Mexican food isn’t only for drinks that have a lime hanging off the glass.
TIP: Don’t even mention corkage. What people don’t know won’t hurt them.
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