How to Pair Wine with Mexican Food

Wednesday, March 1, 2017 | 8:07 pm

Beer tastes good with a lot of Mexican dishes. But authentic Mexican food is every bit as complex and nuanced as a fine glass of wine and deserves to be paired with one. Mexico has a long history with wine. El Portal offers a great Wine Special this month, so try a whole new flavor pairing and follow the suggestions below.

1. The most successful wines are fresh, sleek, and crisp with acidity. Good white choices include Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio (also known as Pinot Gris), dry Riesling, and Albariño, a crisp, citrusy knockout from northwestern Spain that’s phenomenal with green tomatillo-chili sauces.

Try it with delicious Panuchos – small corn tortillas filled with puree of black beans, covered with shredded lettuce, grilled chicken, avocado slices and pickled onions or Shrimp Tostada with black beans, avocado slices, pico-papaya and queso fresco.

2. A second group includes wines with a plush, thick, jammy mouth-feel. Soft, juicy Zinfandels with massive fruit flavors can be sensational with earthy red chile adobo sauces, and super supple Shirazes and Shiraz blends from Australia, with deep berry flavors, can cushion robust seasonings. If you’re not a lover of such powerhouses, try a simple, overtly fruity beaujolais (made from the red grape Gamay); since it’s often served chilled, it’s refreshing with highly seasoned dishes.

It will be delicious with La Fuente – a platter of mixed traditional appetizers with breaded shrimps, nachos, flautas, quesadilla strips, taquitos, sour cream and guacamole.

3. Avoid Chardonnay. Its typically oaky, toasty character fights with bold, complex Mexican flavors, and the wine ends up tasting coarse and bitter. Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot don’t fare much better. Both have a lot of tannin, and when tannin hits the flavor of chilies, it sets your mouth on fire and you miss all the complexities of the food.

Visit El Portal for a selection of over 50 bottles of tequila, margaritas and Mexican food. El Portal is located at 695 East Green Street. Call (626) 795-8553 or visit for more information.



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