The Grapevine

Mexican Food & Wine Pairings: Yes, It’s Possible

April 26th, 2013

Inspired by this Serious Eats column, here are some Mexican food recipes and wine pairing suggestions. [level-members]

In general, low-alcohol wine are going to pair better with spicy foods. Bubbles can be a go-to choice since sparkling wines can be so versatile with food and Mexican food is pretty varied in both preparation and primary ingredients / flavor profile.

German Rieslings also work well, as does Sauvignon Blanc. We’ll open a Vinho verde when we’re cooking Mexican at home.

If you aren’t climbing the Scoville scale to hotness ratings of “total annihilation” you might try a lighter red. Pinots from California, Oregon or Washington have worked well for us, as have light Côtes du Rhône. You want it to be a younger, fruitier wine, one that’s lower-alcohol and not terribly tannic.

And don’t forget rosés! Whether still or sparkling, there are rosés that pair wonderfully with a variety of Mexican favorites. That makes them a great choice to share when dining out.

You might also seek out a wine from the Guadalupe Valley in … Mexico. Who knew?

So, what to cook with all these fantastic wine choices? We’ll turn to the folks at Food & Wine (since we were reviewing their May issue for you yesterday …) for some ideas.

First, some quickies: quick Mexican dishes that don’t stint on flavor. There are plenty to choose from at F&W but one we love is Tuna Tacos with Onions. It’s a nice twist on our usual halibut, snapper, haddock or cod.

I have to admit, I haven’t tried the Fried-Fish Reuben Tacos, but we love reubens and we love fish tacos … That might be dinner on Sunday night. We can always order in a pizza if it doesn’t work out.

There’s healthy Mexican, as well. Sweet Potato, Chipotle and Apple soup makes an interesting and unexpected start to a Mexican meal. And Easy Chicken Fajitas are sure to be a crowd-pleaser. Or you can make a Pork and Tomatillo Stew.

Whatever you choose, be adventurous in your wine choices. We’ve gotten past the days when we used to force red wine on a spicy dish even if we knew it wasn’t going to be ideal. If you’re willing to go a bit lighter on the heat scale, you can still drink red wine and enjoy a great Mexican meal. And if you have to have the spice, you still have a lot of choices beyond beer.