Best Wines to Pair with Mexican Food

Best Wines to Pair with Mexican Food

Traditionally we don’t think of wine to pair with Mexican food. Most people choose a beer or Margaritas instead.

This to some extent strains from the fact that many people imagine Tex-Mex style meals when they think of Mexican cuisine. While Tex-Mex is similar, it’s a much more simplified version of traditional Mexican dishes.

Developed and evolved in the southwestern regions of the United States, it features simple combinations of meat, potatoes and refried beans covered in cheese and hot sauce to trick your tastebuds into believing you’re eating a complexly flavoured meal.

Tex-Mex cuisine was created by resourceful immigrant workers, who had little access to the various vegetables, meat, and spices that are enjoyed in traditional Mexican food. These humble styled meals deserve a humble drink to accompany them – such as beer.

Authentic Mexican cuisine, in contrast, is much more nuanced in flavour and just as complex as European cuisines. Mexican dishes are not as hot as people think, they’re just properly seasoned. A complex drink, such as a good bottle of wine, can perfectly accompany those dishes and bring out the vivid flavours.

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Key Rules for Pairing Wine with Mexican Food

Just like with any other cuisine, when pairing wine with Mexican food, you have to look for something that would bring out all the different flavours in the meal without overshadowing it. This can be a tricky task, particularly with the flavour intensity of Mexican cuisine. Here are a few general rules to follow when pairing wine with Mexican dishes:

1.     Look for fresh wines with bright acidity

Wines with crisp, fresh flavours that are high in acidity are perfect to break through the layers of spice and complexity in Latin-American meals.

Good choices of white wines would be Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc. A dry Riesling or a crisp, citrusy, Spanish Albariño can also be great pairs.

High acidity, however, isn’t found exclusively in white wines. There are plenty of reds with some crispness to them. Some great choices include Italian Chiantis, Spanish Riojas or the classic Pinot Noir.

2.     As an alternative go for wines with jammy mouth-feel and velvety taste

Mexican cuisine isn’t just intense and flavourful, it’s also hearty with tones of earthy flavours. Think of a hearty chilli with beans and meat.

A plush fruit-filled wine can be just what you need to compliment those flavours. A soft Zinfandel can be a great choice. Australian Shiraz with its deep berry flavours can also work quite nicely.

If this isn’t to your taste, a simple fruity Beaujolais might be a better option. Since it’s traditionally served chilled, this type of wine can also add a refreshing taste to your meal.

3.     Avoid wines with high tannins

Wines that are high in tannins, such as Chardonnay, can be typically oaky and toasty in flavour, but their bold character can clash with the complex flavours of Mexican food. This makes the wine taste bitter and coarse and doesn’t add to the flavour of the food.

Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon aren’t much better options. Both have intense tannins that when mixed with the flavour of the chillies will leave a fiery sensation in your mouth and you’ll mic all the complexity of the food.

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Wines to Pair with Popular Mexican Dishes

Mole Wine Pairs


Reds with low tannins and sweet notes are the perfect pair for Mole, with its layers of tomato, sweet spices, ancho, and hints of chocolate. Shiraz, Zinfandel, or Malbec are some of the best wines to go with this meal.

Carnitas Tacos Wine Pairs

Translated from Mexican, carnitas means “little meat”. This dish prepared with braised, tender pork pairs well with soft red wines or whites with bright acidity. Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand or Argentinian whites can work quite well. With their high-acidity and berry flavours, roses can also pair greatly. For reds, you can try matching the earthy tastes of the dish with an earthy wine such as Pinot Noir.

Fish Tacos Wine Pairs

 

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Fish tacos, much like any other fish dish, require white wines with high acidity to compliment the freshness of the meal. Any wine with zesty notes and a citrusy finish will be perfect to balance the saltiness of the fish. If you’re eating fried tacos, you simply cannot go wrong with sparkling wine. The bubbles in the sparkling wine can add some lightness to the fatty fried food.

Enchiladas Wine Pairs

A good pair for a chicken enchilada would be a light, dry white wine such as a Chenin Blanc or a young Chardonnay that hasn’t been aged in oak. With beef enchiladas, a medium-bodied red wine would be a suitable choice. A young Spanish Rioja, Cote du Rhone or Bonarda are some of the wines that fit this description.

Conclusion

Contrary to what most people believe, Mexican food can be paired with various different wines. You can apply the same rules of wine pairing that you would with most European cuisines.

About Maria Kennedy

Maria Kennedy is the managing editor at Travel for Food Hub. Maria is on a full-tilt mission to share local food and travel inspiration. When she is not writing about food and travel, startups or social media, she is enjoying her time with her boys in sunny Spain.

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