Whether you hail from South of the Border or Seattle, Washington, what’s not to love about all things Mexican? With Cinco de Mayo festivities about to begin, I have yet another excuse to enjoy tasty food from sunny Mexico. Just the thought of quesadillas, tacos, pico de gallo, fresh fish, tacos, enchiladas, tortilla soup, burritos, and unique vegetables causes my palate to tingle with anticipation. Grab those maracas, shout “Ole!”, and let’s start the party!

cinco de mayo
This year, I won’t be tippling a frosty margarita or cerveza fria as I celebrate Cinco de Mayo. Instead, I’ve found three wines from Spain (sent as samples) that will pair with some of my best loved Mexican dishes. But what I’ve learned, after doing my due diligence in the form of research, is that bringing out the best in these wines and those distinctive dishes can be tricky.

If the dish you love is spicy, choose a chilled white wine with plenty of minerality, a Cava, or one that has a touch of sugar. If your culinary creation isn’t overly spiced, a fruit forward red may be delicious. You’re having tacos with all of the fixins and plenty of sauce? You may want to try a sparkling wine, a dry rose, or Garnacha. Foods oozing with cheesy goodness will be even more savory paired with a Tempranillo or Sangiovese. Vegetarian dishes beg for a wine with high acidity. Grilled seafood with herbs? Consider a Sauvignon Blanc, Albarino, or your favorite sparkling wine.

The list goes on, but the wines I discovered will pair with almost any Mexican dish you crave on Cinco de Mayo…or any other day of the week!

I can’t think of a better pairing with shrimp ceviche or anything spicy on your Cinco de Mayo plate than a pure and fresh Albarino from Rias Baixas, located in the northwestern corner of Spain. And the Pazo Senorans Seleccion de Anada 2008 ($28) delivers. Glistening gold in the glass, broad, intense aromas of honey, lemon, bright citrus, stone fruit, and yellow flowers were the first clue that this wine would be rich, yet delicate. On the palate, bracing acidity, notes of ripe citrus and a full, creamy mouthfeel gave way to a long, elegant finish. This beautiful expression of Albarino is one to discover.

cinco de mayo
What would Cinco de Mayo be without tippling a luscious Tempranillo? This week, try the Campo Vieja Rioja 2014 ($10), an easy drinking selection that’s also a terrific value. I appreciated each refreshing whiff of black cherries, ripe red fruit, cinnamon, and lavender that leapt from the glass. Boasting food friendly acidity and soft, well-integrated tannins, the flavors of blueberries, fresh-picked cherries, vanilla, and a hint of cocoa were absolutely mouthwatering and oh-so satisfying. Pour yourself a glass of this well priced Tempranillo and pair with my recipe for savory and rich queso fundidoSuddenly, Cinco de Mayo is that much more fun!

cinco de mayo
One wine that will complement any Mexican food you’re serving is Cava, the sparkling wine from Spain. Recently, I found one such Cava that knocked my sombrero off! From D.O. Utiel-Requena, Tharsys Único ($39) is a Blanc de Noir made from bobal, a sweet wine made from a rare grape called Bronx and produced by the ancient technique of over-ripening the grapes in the sun. Just. wow. On the nose, I found aromas of bright citrus, yellow flowers in a spring garden, and sweet brioche. My palate was equally mesmerized as I explored the mouthwatering acidity, round mouthfeel, ripe citrus, touch of sweetness from beginning to end, and the luscious finish. Bring on your favorite Mexican fare, whatever it is…this elegant and sophisticated Cava is also party-ready!

cinco de mayo

Cheers to Cinco de Mayo! ~ Cindy




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