I looooove eating in Mexican restaurants. Whenever I manage to talk a bunch of friends and family into going (whether they’re craving Mexican food or not), I can feel myself get this big smirk on my face. I know I’m about to eat as much as possible and probably embarrass everyone – most of all myself – in the process. Remember when you were a kid and got excited about something and started jumping around like you won the lottery? Well I do that when I eat great food, except I do it in my mind because there’s nothing attractive of a 6”1” 245 lb. guy jumping around like a hyper toddler.
Every time I go to a Mexican restaurant, I generally do the same five things:
- Eat as much chips and salsa as humanly possible. (Don’t feel bad for me.)
- Order Pollo al Ajillo Mole. (Garlic Grilled Chicken with Mole Sauce)
- Get a glass of wine. (if possible, otherwise I’ll settle for a margarita)
- Sample other people’s plates. (I’m just making sure everyone’s food quality is up to par. No, really. It’s not because I’m trying to hide my own vice or anything!)
- Pay the bill. (At this point, it’s the least I can do!)
For this week’s Wine Craft, I created a food and wine pairing guide matching the most popular Mexican dishes with some really fantastic wines. Not only are these pairings delicious, they’re also a great example of the kind of things a sommelier has to know in order to pass the difficult Court of Master Sommelier exams – in fact, I have it on good authority that during the Advanced Exam (the level I’m currently studying for), the Master Somms giving the test are known to ask questions specifically about Mexican food and wine pairings. Now you’re in the know!
Here are ten pairings that will elevate both your dining experience (whether at home or in a restaurant) and your knowledge level, too:
- Chips and Salsa: Maximin Grunhauser Abtsberg Riesling Kabinett 2011 $35: BUY ME
- Chips and Guacamole: Trefethenn Dry Riesling 2015 $20: BUY ME
- Fish Tacos: Zind-Humbrecht Gewurztraminer 2013 $26: BUY ME
- Ceviche: Bodegas Naveran Brut Cava 2014 $18: BUY ME
- Chicken Enchiladas: Graham Beck Game Reserve Chenin Blanc 2014 $17: BUY ME
- Pollo al Ajillo con Mole: Mira Winery Hyde Vineyard Syrah 2009 $44: BUY ME
- Chili con Carne: Joseph Jewell Grist Vineyard Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel 2012 $34: BUY ME
- Carne Asada: Mendel Malbec 2013 $24: BUY ME
- Tamales: Mayacamas Chardonnay 2014 $50: BUY ME
Mario Luna is a Certified Sommelier and owner of Mario Luna Somm, a company that produces online wine courses, blogs, and other user-friendly content full of information perfect for the everyday wine drinker. He lives in Las Vegas where, in addition to working on the famous Las Vegas Strip, he serves as a consultant for large-scale wine events, specialty shops, and all kinds of wine tastings. You can contact Mario at his website or check out his courses here.