You may notice a bit of trend brewing amongst my last few articles featuring food you can eat with your hands. Any why not? It’s summer – the perfect time to enjoy casual, delicious and unpretentious food showcasing bright flavours and amazing fresh seasonal ingredients.
And whether your preference is fabulous fresh fish or crave-worthy carne asada wrapped up in a tasty tortilla, summertime is taco-time! Tacos most certainly pre-dated the arrival of Europeans in Mexico, but it didn’t take long for this signature Mexican dish to gain the attention of early visiting foodies.
Like many iconic food vehicles, tacos have become a popular method of expressing a wide range of international flavours and ingredients. If you’re looking to put a fun and funky spin on your next BBQ or summer party, why not fire up the grill and put together a big old platter of meat, fish, seafood and grilled vegetables alongside a stack of corn and flour tortillas?
And of course, if we’re going to explore the amazing flavours found in a few of our favourite recipes, we’d be remiss in not offering the perfect wine matches to serve alongside each. So let’s take a trip south of border and celebrate the bright flavours of Mexico with our guide to pairing wine & tacos…
1. “Fishing With Dynamite” Baja Fish Tacos: RECIPE
WINE MATCH: Riesling
Perhaps the trendiest expression of an on-trend food – Baja style fish tacos having quickly become a foodie focus in recent years, and why not? These light salty wraps are the perfect summer munchy, and as such scream for a wine that tastes like a mouthful of sunshine. Dry or slightly off-dry, Riesling is a perfect pairing with Baja style fish tacos.
2. Grilled Portabello Mushroom Tacos: RECIPE
WINE MATCH: Pinot Noir
Savoury umami-laden Portobello mushrooms of the grill are a match made in heaven for the lighter to mid-weight reds made from the “heartbreak grape”. Bright refreshing acidity in Pinot Noir helps to cut through the earthy richness of the mushrooms and will keep you coming back, time and again, for one more bite!
3. Slow Cooked Turkey & Black Bean Tacos: RECIPE
WINE MATCH: Grenache/Garnacha
A rustic dish featuring the humble turkey drumstick and black beans as stars of the show goes to the next level when wrapped up next to a glass of Languedoc Grenache – or a central-Spanish Garnacha. These reds deliver heaps of red and black fruit and an earthy spiciness that will make you a believer.
4. Beer Battered Trout & Horseradish Slaw Tacos: RECIPE
WINE MATCH: Chenin Blanc
Man do I love Chenin Blanc – so there’s absolutely nothing about this pairing that doesn’t get me fired up! Chenin Blanc is the most refreshing bowl of citrus and tropical fruit salad you’ll find in a glass of wine. This bright honeyed fruit is buoyed by bracing acidity creating a fabulous pairing for fish, particularly when it comes to the table with a touch of spice. This is a can’t miss flavour combo!
5. Kale & Sweet Potato Tacos: RECIPE
WINE MATCH: Barrel-Aged Chardonnay
I’d suggest that we pair this leading edge super-food packed taco with a classic old-school white wine, like a barrel-aged Chardonnay. The unctuousness of the Chard is a perfect match to the textural quality of the sweet potato, and the spicy rich complex flavours from barrel-aging – like cinnamon and clove and nutmeg – are mindful of the sort of spices one might use to season a sweet potato casserole.
6. Bright Fresh Lime & Chili Chicken Tacos: RECIPE
WINE MATCH: Albarino
Could Albarino be the wine answer to a gin and tonic? This flavour packed citrus-bomb of a white wine offers refreshment and flavour intensity in equal measure; a wine seemingly as comfortable served as a summer patio sipper as it is paired up with a flavour packed dish like this taco. And oh yeah… it’s also just about the trendiest white wine on the planet these days, being showcased in fine restos and wine bars around the globe.
7. Quinoa & Black Bean Tacos: RECIPE
WINE MATCH: Mourvedre/Monastrell
How about matching this ancient grain (quinoa) with some ancient vines red wine? This boldly spiced quinoa and black bean filling will reward a marriage with an earthy spicy full-bodied heritage red grape, like a southern French Mourvedre or southern Spanish Monastrell. Here’s a grape which builds even more rapport with this dish as it offers a meaty savoury complexity, enhancing these same virtues in the black beans.
8. Scrambled Egg, Cactus & Avocado Tacos: RECIPE
WINE MATCH: Cava
A traditional Mexican breakfast dish, but why not think of this as an alternative to an omelet for lunch – or a fantastically cool addition to your next brunch? Either way, no wine goes better with brunch or eggs than bubbly; and the idea of serving a Spanish Cava just feels right when we’re featuring Mexican cuisine. Fuller, richer expressions of Cava will hit the mark next to these authentic Mexican breakfast wraps.
9. Shrimp & Zucchini Tacos: RECIPE
WINE MATCH: Viognier
Originally gaining notoriety in the wines of Condrieu, coaxed from the impossibly steep slopes of France’s northern Rhone Valley, today we find Viognier in more comfortable sunny locales like Australia, California and South Africa. This stone fruit scented white offers up dry honey and aromatic herbs as part of a fireworks show of aromatics within its dense, broad frame. You’ll find this to be a harmonious match with shrimp and mild rich vegetables like zucchini.
10. Braised Pork Tacos w/ Pineapple & Pomegranate: RECIPE
WINE MATCH: Syrah/Shiraz
Lush, decadent and sexy, this peppery red is layered with impressive red and dark berry fruit. With the indulgent richness of slow cooked pork and bright refreshing pineapple and pomegranate, this wine will amp up the flavour quotient big-time at your next backyard BBQ.
11. Lobster Tacos w/ Green Onion & Cilantro Sauce: RECIPE
WINE MATCH: Sauvignon Blanc
While lobster dishes might be more traditionally served alongside an opulent, rich buttery Chardonnay, today we’re talking tacos and casual backyard parties. Moreover, this lobster is dressed with savoury herbaceous cilantro and scallion deliciousness, so a bright refreshing white offering some of these same green herbaceous flavours would seem to the order of the day. Dry a warmer climate California or southern French Sauvignon Blanc as a foil to this decadently adorned taco.
12. Spicy Scallop Tacos w/ Mango Salsa: RECIPE
WINE MATCH: Gewurztraminer
Now this is just downright delicious! Serving an off-dry Gewurz alongside these opulent treasures of the ocean with a bit of spice is about as good a match as we’ve got to suggest today. This white features a myriad of tropical fruit flavours and aromas, a richness and body that mirrors the texture of the scallops, and the slightest hint of sweetness to help cut through the spice treatment. Don’t wait. Go and try this one out tonight!!!
Pairing Wine & Tacos: Bright Summer Taco Recipes
Andrew Hanna – Winetrader.ca