Holy Mole! Don't Forget the Wine!

    Mention Mole to most Americans, and they’ll recognize it as a Mexican sauce that includes a bit of chocolate flavor.

     That would be Mole Poblano, which often is served at festivals or other celebrations. The acclaimed Frontera Grill in Chicago, home of celebrity chef Rick Bayless, serves it atop chicken-filled enchiladas – its touch of sweetness serving to mellow the gentle kick of the dish.

     Poblano is not the only type of Mole, however. Others skip the chocolate and incorporate a wide range of ingredients, including chiles of assorted colors and hotness levels, sesame seeds, nuts, spices, garlic and fruit. It’s important to know your Moles when dining out because, when selecting a complementary wine, one should match it to the dominant flavor of the dish -and when Moles are involved, the dominant flavors will come from the sauce.

     As an example, with Chef Bayless’ Mole Poblano-topped chicken enchilada, we’d suggest a wine with rich, dark fruit flavors – Zinfandel, Primitivo or Petite Sirah. The same pairings would work with Mole Negro.

     Here are a few other Mole-and-wine pairing ideas…

     * Mole Amarillo – This light sauce often is served over fish, and goes well with fruity white wines such as Riesling, Gewurztraminer or Pinot Gris. White wines with just a hint of sweetness also work.

     * Mole Rojo – Because it’s not too heavy, this sauce often is served with enchiladas, and some chefs use it with lamb dishes. Zinfandel is one wine possibility, but an Australian Shiraz also would match beautifully. The same wines could be used with a pork chop topped with Manchamanteles, a slightly sweet sauce that counts cinnamon, cloves and plantains among its flavors.

     * Mole Verde – This is perhaps the least complex of the Moles, but no less enioyable; it simply has a cleaner flavor, often infused with herbal notes. So, select an herbal wine such as Sauvignon Blanc to accompany it. Most California renditions are fine, but the assertive New Zealand style would be even better.

Posted in Food and Wine Pairings/Recipes
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