The cuisine of Mexico abounds with the spicy flavors of hot peppers, mild cheeses like Monterey Jack and Caiso Fresco and citrus marinades creating a burst of powerful flavors in your mouth. So, what wines will enhance the savor of most Mexican dishes?
There are three main factors to consider in your wine pairing, which are sweetness, alcohol content and acidity.
Generally, the most common beverages enjoyed with Mexican food are very light beers with a slice of lime and the popular Margarita cocktail, made with tequila, orange liquor, fruit (classically, lime) and an optional salt rim for the glass.
With this in mind, one of the best wines to try with Mexican food is a chilled Riesling.
The best choice might be Rieslings from the Mosel Valley in Germany, which are semi-dry, with slight acidity and the ability to stand up to cold temperatures.
Also, they are lower in alcohol by volume which will diminish the burning sensation from the vast array of chili peppers used in Mexican cuisine.
Any wine you choose should not have an alcohol content higher than 13.5% by volume. It is common knowledge that you don’t put alcohol on a burn, the same principle applies when imbibing an alcoholic drink over the tingling tissues of your mouth when eating Mexican food. It is also true that a slight sweetness will cut the heat factor when eating spicy food.
Many Mexican seafood dishes use citrus-based marinades, and another good choice for these kinds of preparations might be a tart Sauvignon Blanc. This wine traditionally boasts notes of citrus, green apples and other tropical fruit flavors that make seafood preparations like saviche sing across the palate.
For red wine lovers, one of the best choices is a chilled Beaujolais made from the Gamay grape. It is low on tannins and alcohol and can be served at a high chill, similar to white wines. Also, it is remarkably thirst quenching for a red wine, yet robust enough to serve with a variety of meats.
But perhaps one of the best options for red wine lovers is a cold pitcher of Sangria.
Use one of your favorite red wines and choose a recipe that appeals to your taste buds. There are as many formulas for sangria as there are Sangria-makers. Most will have a variety of tart fruits, orange liqueur like Triple Sec, sparkling water or lemon-lime soda and even some cinnamon and or nutmeg. Served over ice, this delicious concoction will satisfy all the requirements for pairing wines for Mexican food. Best of all, you don’t need an expensive red wine to make it. You can get some of the best results from a cheap gallon jug of Chianti, like Livingston, which costs around $7.00. Even though Chianti is a robust red wine, the addition of fruit, soda and Triple Sec will diminish the overall alcohol content by volume and make a smooth and delicious accompaniment for any hearty Mexican meat dish.
Unfortunately, serving good red wines on their own, will neither enhance the wine or most Mexican dishes. Most of all, the subtleties and nuances of fine red wine will be blown away by the strong flavors in Mexican food and will be a waste of good wine.
Using these basic tips will enhance your favorite Mexican dishes and create a wonderful harmony of flavors. though wine pairing is highly personal, these recommendations should be a great starting point for enjoying your Mexican favorites.