Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Mexican Wine? Plus a guide to pairing wine and Mexican food


Photo credit: Omar Omar
Mexico is not known as a wine drinking nation; spicy food can be difficult to pair with wine and the grape is largely overshadowed by tequila and beer. I was therefore surprised to discover that wine production in the country dates back to the Spanish conquest and Cortes. However, it is only in recent years that Mexico has begun to produce high quality wines on an international level.

In celebration of this ever-growing industry, Wahaca recently hosted a Mexican wine evening in partnership with Bibendum. Read all about the evening here.

Today, Mexico's largest wine areas lie 70 miles south of the US border, in three regions:  San Antonio de las Minas, the San Vicente Valley and the Santo Tomas Valley. Others, boutique wineries can be found Zacatecas, Sonora and Coahuila.

The following types of wine are most commonly produced:
Red - Cabernet Sauvignon, Ruby Cabernet, Zinfandel Grenache and Mission
White - Chenin Blanc, Palomino, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Saint Emilion and Malaga

If you're looking for wine to serve with a Mexican meal, look for something with a good body that will stand up to the heat and flavour of the food. Sweeter grape varieties such as Reisling and Gew├╝rztraminer go very well with spicy food. Here are some other suggestions:

Seafood and fish - a crisp white pairs well with a tangy fish dish made with coriander and garlic. Looks for a Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio or Soave.

Enchiladas and other dishes with a strong sauce - an heavier, oak-based red wine works well with cheese dishes. Try a Pinot Noir, Italian Barbera and Dolcetto. If the dish has a lot of chilli heat, such as chipotle, try a  Cabernet Sauvignon or a classic Australian Shiraz.

There are no hard and fast rules and the more you try, you'll soon discover what works best. Frankly, there's no better excuse to experiment.

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