The Marriage of Wine to Mexican Food

Cold, crisp cerveza (beer) or classic fresh lime margarita are the obvious beverage choices for tacos overflowing with carne asada and chipotle mayo.
Perhaps mezcal if you are really daring. Or a palatable non-alcoholic agua de jamaica (caffeine-free hibiscus iced tea).

Would we venture to pair wine with Mexican food? Or is that a purely Michelin Star undertaking? We pair wine with other cultural culinary fusions so why not the Mexican-Persian? After all, the oldest grape in the world was born and raised in Persia, modern day Iran.  

You may wonder if offering wine goes against Islamic principles. It does. I have chosen not to confront the hypocritical frontier between business and religion. Instead I trust in each of us learning our own limits and finding our own balance.

While I may have grown up with an acquired taste for fine food, it wasn’t until I joined a prestigious, now Fairmont and Serena owned hotel chain in East Africa, that my eyes opened to the world of wine tasting, wine bars, wine clubs and wineries. An exposure surpassing my only encounter with wine to that point in Kenya – the highly consumed German Black Tower, more popular for its chique bottle than the taste of its excessively sweet content.

I started by waiting tables at the reputable Sweet Waters Tented Camp, home of the famous Jane Goodall chimpanzee sanctuary. I moved on to the esteemed Mount Kenya Safari Club where my mother once served as the Vegetarian Chef. I worked my way up to a management trainee position at the distinguished colonial Norfolk Hotel before heading to college.

I transitioned from excruciatingly uncomfortable clumsiness, spilling a bottle of red wine all over the expensive wool sweater of a refined English lady, ruining her posh, romantic evening, to gracefully serving the dignified likes of Isabella Rosalini, James Earl Jones, Mariah Carey and John Lithgow. 

The most decadent destination in the hotel chain belonged to a well-known Saudi, a former arms dealer. His home, where the VVIP guests had the luxury of staying, a rhino sanctuary, was a haven to Spanish wines, Tuscan wines, South African wines, Argentine wines and much more!

My connoisseur and sommelier friends dabbling in the wine and Mexican food conversation recommend pairing Pinot Noir or Merlot with hot, spicy Mexican food and Riesling or Gewürztraminer with non-spicy Mexican food.

I am neither a connoisseur nor sommelier. I do however enjoy a flavorful wine and along my journey have developed a good enough understanding of how to pair wine with a great experience at the Urban Taqueria Mexican restaurant.

Let me share a few secrets and tips I have uncovered. When pairing wine with spicy food, stay away from the bitter or acidic high tannin red and oaky wines. The Malbec, a medium tannin red wine, fuses beautifully with red meats.  A Sauvignon Blanc complements fish wonderfully.

At Urban Taqueria, if you are ready to walk down the aisle, marry a full-bodied Granache red wine with our signature Death by Taco, the spiciest taco plate in the world! If you are more inclined towards a fiery pre-marital fling, the Bad Hombre ‘chilied shrimp’ is always prepared. You could also indulge in a polite affair with the elegant, vegan Snowflake.

I also recommend hooking up a lush Gewürztraminer white wine with our Credible Sources fish taco or taking the rosé on a blind date with the politically inclined Libertarian, a die-hard vegetarian.

Unlikely marriages have always been common. We celebrate them all at Urban Taqueria just as we do the union of Wine and Mexican Food. We give special credit to our delightful tacos who bear the rings of enduring partnership.

Buen provecho!

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