Can you drink wine while enjoying a meal of Mexican-inspired food? My dear, if you try hard enough, you can pair wine with anything!
You certainly wouldn’t be the first to think of pairing your favorite wines with the Mexican spice palette and some of the staples of Mexican-American and Tex-Mex cooking. I recently had the pleasure of eating at the top Mexican restaurant in Europe and the wine/food combinations were simply incredible.
And if you need more evidence, consider the fact that Mexico is one of the world’s top 25 wine producers.
Now that is out of the way, here is your guide to pairing wines with Mexican dishes.
Three Cardinal Rules of Wine-Food Pairings
These cardinal rules apply to every type of food, including Mexican-inspired dishes, so they’re certainly applicable here. Some of these “rules” (more like suggestions, really) are a bit on the technical side, so ask your server or the local wine shop for suggestions if you’re unsure.
1. The Rule of Green Herbs
If a dish contains a predominance of green herbs in the flavor, the accompanying wine should also have an herbaceous flavor. One often-suggested wine with herbaceous undertones is Sauvignon Blanc.
If the dish has a predominantly herbal flavor and is also spicy, wine experts suggest balancing the spice with a sweet, fruity Sauvignon Blanc with relatively high acidity.
2. The Rule of Spice
Speaking of spicy, to counteract the burning effect of the capsicum in peppers, pair spicy Mexican dishes with wines that have a low alcohol content and a moderate, not high, amount of tannins. In general, the spicier the food is, the sweeter and colder the wine should be.
3. White Wines for White Meats
Perhaps the most basic rule of wine pairing is to match the meat’s color with the wine’s color: red for red, white for white. For pork, chicken, and seafood dishes, many white wines will work well.
Suggestions By Sauce
To make things even simpler, here are some wine suggestions based on the type of sauce used in dishes commonly served in U.S. Mexican and Tex-Mex restaurants.
- Adobo Sauce: Sparkling white wines such as Crémant, Moscato d’Asti, or Prosecco
- Chili Sauce (Red): German Riesling
- Enchilada Sauce: Sangiovese
- Green Chile Sauce: Grüner Veltliner or Sauvignon Blanc
- Guacamole: Dry Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Verdejo
- Molé Negro: Chilled Amontillado
- Pico de Gallo: Albariño, Grüner Veltliner, Pinot Gris, Vihno Verde
- Ranchero Sauce: Cabernet Franc, Carménère, Gamay
- Tomatillo Salsa: Grüner Veltliner, Sauvignon Blanc, Verdejo
Suggestions By Dish
The following are some common pairings between favorite Mexican foods and complementary wines.
- Arroz con Pollo or Arroz con Camarones: Albariño, Cava, Sauvignon Blanc, Vihno Verde
- Barbacoa or Carne Asada: Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carménère, Douro Reds, Malbec, Tempranillo
- Carnitas or Tacos al Pastor: Sparkling Brut Rosé
- Chalupas, Sopas, Tacos, and Tostadas: Cannonau from Sardegna, Dry Rosé, Lambrusco, Spanish Garnacha
- Chiles Rellenos or Empanadas: Albariño, Garnacha Rosé, Grüner Veltliner, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, Spanish Verdejo, Torrontes
- Enchiladas, Chalupas, or Gorditas: Cabernet Franc Rosé, Syrah Rosé, or Tempranillo Rosé for spicy dishes, or chilled Reserva Rioja or Tempranillo from the Ribera del Duero for mild dishes
- Quesadillas: Carménère from Chile, Sangiovese, Tempranillo
- Tortas: Cava
If you don’t see your favorite wine on the list, don’t panic. This is only a loose guide for pairings you might want to try, but in reality, any wine pairing that works for you is a good wine/food pairing.
About The Author:
Vinny Couture writes most of the wine-related content for Dream Kitchen Solutions