So, you want a good wine to go with Mexican food? Well I have a wine for you. A Cabernet, yes you heard me right, a Cab for Mexican food. First we must look at some pairing rules for Spicy foods (usually Mexican but could also be for any food that is really spicy) to appreciate this unusual pairing. Rule #1 – Spicy food pairs with lower alcohol wines and moderate tannins. The reason for this is to help with the burning feeling of capsicum (found in hot peppers). Rule #2 – White meat means white wine, Red meat means red wine. Reason for this is that the white meats (Chicken and fish) tend to be lighter thus requiring a lighter bodied wine (usually white). Rule #3 – Foods with lots of greens (Vegetables) tend towards the wines with higher acidity and fruitier wines.
OK now that that’s out of the way, let me tell you how rules are meant to be broken, and the Red Wine Guys will always look to break the rules when red wine is concerned. My wife and I were having dinner at a marvelous Mexican restaurant in La Jolla (CA) called the Red O. Now when I get Mexican food I usually will have a Margarita. This night I wasn’t in the mood for one and I really wanted a glass of wine with my meal. I didn’t feel like ordering a bottle either, so what does one do? Ask for the house wine of course!
I don’t usually order house wines in a restaurant as they are usually not very good, but when I saw we could order a carafe I said, oh alright why not. I also found out that the wine was from Alexander Valley, one of my favorite regions in the Sonoma County for Cabernet.
Upon first sip, I knew we had a good wine, strawberry overtones, smooth and full bodied, yet not overpowering, but does it go with Mexican food? The wine did not meet any of the criteria for pairing with Mexican food. It was on the jammy side but not as oaky as some Cabernets. We had Chile rellenos, enchiladas and empenadas. Guess what – it was marvelous! With every bite of food the wine succeeded in making the meal even better, after all isn’t that the whole idea behind pairing? So the moral of this story is don’t let pairing rules rule your decisions. Explore and be adventurous and you just might discover an unexpected pairing. I give this wine 4 glasses.