Wine, beer and other pairings with Mexican food
The thing you need to ask yourself when you’re wondering which wine - or other drink - to pair with Mexican food is what kind of Mexican. Authentic Mexican or Tex Mex?
If it’s the former you’ll need a wine that can handle the bright citrussy flavours. If it’s the cheese-laden latter you’d be be better off with a beer or robust red wine of which there are plenty made in Mexico these days though few make it to the UK.
It’s also a question of what type of Mexican meal - a few small sharing plates or a more substantial dish like a mole. Or possibly even both.
Here’s a simple guide:
Top pairings with Mexican food
Tacos, tostadas and dips like guacamole and salsa fresca
There tend to be a lot of bright citrus flavours in these types of dishes: crisp fresh whites like Sauvignon Blanc and Albarino work particularly well as do classic margaritas, wheat beers (especially witbiers) or citrussy pale ales. Fresh fruity non-alcoholic cocktails like this citrus fizz or watermelon or hibiscus-flavoured Agua Fresca are good matches too.
Tamalas and other dishes with masa harina
Chardonnay is great with corn.
Cheesy enchiladas or burritos
With a chicken enchilada I'd go for a pale ale or light smooth dry white like a chenin blanc or unoaked chardonnay. With beef enchiladas or burritos try an amber ale or a medium-bodied red like a young Rioja or other tempranillo, a garnacha or a Côte du Rhône or a Bonarda
Moles suit dark Mexican beers like Negra Modelo or other dark beers - maybe even a stout with a chocolatey mole. Winewise I'd favour robust but not over-tannic young reds such as Petite Sirah and Zinfandel. Slightly smoky, gamey reds such as mourvèdre (or GSM blends) and barbera work too. If you feel your mole could benefit from a bit more sweetness go for a Chilean cabernet or a riper style of zinfandel
Other slow braised dishes like carnitas
Barbera, malbec or syrah. Amber and dark ales and lagers
Mexican desserts such as churros and cajeta pancakes
With cajetas (caramelised goats milk pancakes) I’d go for a sweet muscat or late harvest sauvignon blanc. With churros I’d personally skip the wine and drink a black Americano coffee.
Image © marcos - Fotolia.com
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