It’s not just beer and Tequila to drink with tacos. We spoke to the experts for their wine and taco pairing advice…
Think about intensity of the dish
Do try: High acid whites | Sweeter styles of Riesling for the spice | Light rosé | Low tannin red
Avoid: Wines lots of oak, tannin and mineral qualities
Wine and tacos: What to consider
With so many flavours and spice in tacos, it can be tricky to find the right wine to pair with.
‘Tacos are full flavoured and spicy so nothing too delicate that will be overpowered,’ said Sam Hart, director of London taco restaurant El Pastor.
‘I would say that the main thing to consider when picking a wine to go with tacos is levels of spiciness – obviously this varies a lot depending on the style of taco,’ said Anny Vexler, from Newcomer Wines, who recently picked wines for an event with Breddos Tacos in London.
‘I would avoid anything too spicy if you want a good wine pairing.’
‘The best pairings are wines that have fresh, zippy acidity, aren’t too complex or oaky and with loads of citrus or lime zest characters to stand up to the variety of bold flavours,’ said Emily Acha Derrington, wine specialist at London restaurant temper.
‘As a general rule I would say that the intensity of the wine should roughly match up to the intensity of the dish so that nothing is lost or drowned out,’ said Vexler.
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Wine and tacos: Wines to choose
To work with the spice, Vexler recommends something ‘aromatic and maybe a wine with a touch of residual sugar as this tempers the spice really nicely.’
‘For this reason Grüner Veltliner and Riesling are excellent matches for tacos, and they work well with both fish and meat based tacos.’
Ache Derrington recommends Riesling too.
‘A Clare Valley Riesling with lots of grapefruit and citrusy characters like the Vinteloper Watervale, or Grosset Springvale. Or a Riesling blend like the Chaffey Brothers, Düfte Punkt – the aromatics and weight work really well with a range of flavours.’
If you want something a bit more unusual, then whites with skin contact work well as long as they have good fruit character, zesty acidity and aromatics, said Ache Derrington.
Red and rosé wines
But you don’t need to just stick with white wines.
‘We also picked a light rosé and a light red low in tannins which went really well as well,’ said Vexler. ‘Austrian wines are actually fantastic matches because they are high in acidity which help to cut through the flavours and the fattiness.
‘Also both the reds and whites are known for their spicy characteristics which perfectly compliments the herbal aromatic flavours in tacos.’
Hart’s failsafe wine pairing would be Finca La Estacada 2010 from Spain which he describes as ‘sufficiently bold to stand up the Mexican flavours but restrained and fresh tasting too.’
Wine and tacos: What to avoid
Much like when pairing wines with curry, avoid anything too tannic.
‘Avoid anything too tannic or oaky, or dry and mineral without fruit character,’ said Acha Derrington.
If the dish is spicy, avoid high alcohol too, said Vexler, as alcohol increases the perception of heat.
The wine needs to be suitable for the occasion too.
‘I wouldn’t pull out anything too old, delicate or expensive – save those for another day,’ said Hart.
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