Cerveza Is Not Your Only Option for Cinco de Mayo

A glass of red wine with a red hot chili pepperThis is tres de Mayo, which can mean only uno thing. Actually, it can mean many more things than that, but what I’m thinking about is the fact that Cinco de Mayo is only two days away.

Of course, Cinco de Mayo is a big beer day because so many Mexican dishes include a bit of heat — and some feature a whole lot of heat.

For those dishes that are smothered with sriracha sauce — that red-hued hot sauce made from red chili peppers, garlic, vinegar and sugar — cerveza certainly makes sense as a go-to adult beverage.

But with less spicy Mexican or Tex-Mex fare — wine not only is a possibility, but it can be a truly inspired choice.

If the dishes are made with chicken or pork, consider varieties such as Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Torrontes or dry or off-dry (i.e., not to sweet) Moscato.

If the dishes are made with lamb, open up a bottle of Syrah or a bright, fruitful Shiraz (same grape, different name) from Australia.

And if the dishes are beef based, opt for a true cross-cultural experience — a nice, fruitful Italian Chianti, or wine from another country that’s labeled Sangiovese.

The main keys to pairing wine with food that’s somewhat spicy is to choose bottlings that are high in acidity and/or very fruit-forward. That takes more tannic varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon off the table — for this one day of the year, anyway.

So, if you’re hosting a Cinco de Mayo party, stock up on beer doe the diehards, but have a few bottles of wine around for the more adventurous of your friends.

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Posted in Food and Wine Pairings/Recipes
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