When it comes to Mexican tacos, beer or margaritas are the typical go-to drinks, but don’t push away that wine glass yet! Here are 9 great taco and wine pairings for your next taco night. ¡Salúd!
I’m going to be honest, I’m a bit loosey-goosey with my wine pairings. I don’t exactly stick to traditional rules of what goes with what, but my disregard for rules has not always turned out great. Chardonnay with spicy salsa and chips was one in particular unfortunate choice that comes to mind.
Some cuisines are a bit more forgiving than others when it comes to wine pairings. Unfortunately for people like me who love Mexican food and like to just drink the wine that is cold in my refrigerator, the food of Mexico is not one of those cuisines.
There are a few unbreakable rules if you want to actually enjoy a lovely glass of wine with your Mexican street tacos. Not every wine is good with spicy food and wines with a lot of oak and tannins can compete with the complexities in many authentic Mexican tacos making the whole situation overwhelming. This is why people naturally turn to beer or margaritas, they are universally refreshing and cleanse the palate in between bites of big, bold flavor.
Don’t worry though, I’ve got you (and me who needs to be constantly reminded). Just follow these 9 rules for an excellent wine pairing for your favorite Mexican tacos recipe.
A Word On Sustainability
This fun post on wine pairings gives me the opportunity to tell you about Down To Earth Month which celebrates California’s sustainable wine making practices every April. Being a sustainable wine grower in California includes producing high quality grapes and wines, protecting the environment, being a good employer and neighbor, and running a thriving business.
A stunning 80+ percent of California wine is sustainable! 5900 California wine grape growers farm more than 110 wine grape varieties in 150 American viticultural areas. California’s wine industry ensures the health of the land, its communities, and wine making by adopting environmental and social responsible practices.
So how do you support them? Easy! Look for the sustainable wine label on the bottle or check out California Wine’s sustainable wine locator to see if your favorite brand is on the list.
Want to learn more and become a Sustainable Wine Growing Ambassador? You can take a free online course about sustainable wine growing and all that goes into it.
9 Rules For Pairing Wines with Mexican Tacos
1. Chicken Tacos Like A Slightly Sweeter Wine
Chicken tacos topped with minced onion or ones that have been simmered in a tangy sauce go well with an aromatic, slightly sweeter wine like a Riesling or Pinot Gris. These wines tend to have warm spice and caramel notes that balance out the spicy flavors. Look for sustainable California wineries that produce these varietals.
Our favorite chicken taco recipe: Salsa Verde Chicken Tacos
2. Juicy Reds Are A Good Match for Carnitas
Raise your hand if carnitas is your favorite kind of taco. Topped with guacamole and fresh chopped cilantro? Yes please! For these rich pork tacos reach for a red that is ripe and juicy and not too high in tannins. A Grenache would be perfect as would a Tempranillo.
Our favorite carnitas recipe: This Instant Pot Carnitas recipe. It is a fan favorite made quickly and with very few ingredients.
3. Choose Low To Medium Tannin Wines for Spicy Beef Tacos
Beef is intense on its own but then add in the kick from chili powder or a few sliced jalapeños and you’ve got a lot for a wine to contend with. Don’t fight fire with fire, mellow out the heat with a low to medium tannin wine like a Merlot, Pinot Noir, or Zinfandel. When you purchase one of these varietals from a sustainable vineyard you are helping to protect the air, water, soil, and biodiversity of that vineyard.
Our favorite spicy beef taco recipe: Carne Deshebrada Tacos
4. Fatty Ground Beef Tacos Love Sparkling
For a lot of us the ultimate comfort food is a crunchy taco filled with beans and picadillo or seasoned ground beef. This becomes the ultimate indulgence when it is topped with avocado, sour cream, and cheese—woof! Obviously a sparkling wine is the perfect match. The bright acidity and effervescence cut through the beefiness.
Our favorite ground beef taco recipe: Picadillo Tacos
5. Go For A Light-Bodied Red For Flank Steak Tacos
Grilled flank steak tacos or carne asada tacos are usually served with flour tortillas, pico de gallo, and a squeeze of fresh lime. All this is going to need a light bodied red that is low in alcohol, tannins, and has a decent amount of acidity. Try a Pinot Noir or Gamay.
Our favorite flank steak tacos recipe: If you are looking for a good recipe try these Flank Steak Fajitas the grilled peppers and red onion are an added bonus.
6. Bright and Fresh Whites Are Perfect For Shrimp Tacos
Okay, now on to the seafood category. Whether your shrimp tacos are sautéed in spices or loads of garlic (or both), a crisp white like Sauvignon Blanc is the perfect compliment. Committing to supporting sustainable wineries also means contributing to California being the world leader in the most certifiable sustainable acres and cases of wine, so make sure the Sav Blanc you choose comes from a sustainable winery!
Our favorite shrimp tacos recipe: Skillet Charred Shrimp Tacos
7. Barbacoa Loves Syrah
I’m a sucker for a melt-in-your-mouth tender Barbacoa taco—pass the corn tortillas please! Some people might think you’d want big bossy red wine to go with it but my favorite pairing with these deeply flavorful tacos is a Syrah. The dark berry, olive brine brightness cuts through the fat and spice of these meaty tacos.
Our favorite barbacoa tacos recipe: Easy Instant Pot Beef Barbacoa Tacos
8. For Baja-Style Fried Fish Tacos Drink Dry Riesling
If you’ve ever been to Baja California than you know how good their crispy fish tacos are. Piled high with shredded lettuce, fresh cilantro, chopped tomato, and that creamy sauce, oh my! All you need is some lime wedges for squeezing fresh lime juice over everything, that or a nice cold glass of Dry Riesling. The high acidity and low tannins will elevate all these delicious flavors.
Our favorite fried fish tacos recipe: Baja Fish Tacos with Radish Pico de Gallo
9. Chorizo Tacos Are Meant For Rosé
Have you ever made my super easy chorizo sausage tacos? They are amazing, especially if you make them using homemade chorizo that is full of flavor from cumin, oregano, and chiles. A robust and plush Rosé is exactly what you want to drink with these.
Our favorite chorizo taco recipe: Quick and Easy Chorizo Tacos
More Mexican Tacos You’ll Love
- Cochinita Pibil Tacos
- Citrus-Marinated Chicken Fajitas
- Chile-Lime Chicken Tacos with Fruity Salsa
- Summer Squash Vegetarian Tacos
- Tacos Al Pastor with Grilled Pineapple Salsa
- Grilled Fish Tacos with Sweet Corn Salsa
- Chicken Tinga Tacos
Mexican Tacos and Wine Are A Divine Combination
Try these pairings and see what you think! Just make sure the wine you choose is from one of California’s Sustainable Wineries. Let me know your favorite pairing in the comments below.
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