Wine Pairings For A Mexican Fiesta #SundaySupper

I was excited when I saw the theme for this week’s Mexican Fiesta #SundaySupper in honor of Mexican Independence Day.  Mexican food is one of my favorites.  I think it’s underrated as a cuisine.  You know how the remembrance of a meal can take you to a time and place?  One of the best meals I’ve ever had was in Los Cabos, Mexico at Mi Casa Restaurant.  It was probably ten years ago and I can still vividly recall the complex and nuanced flavors I experienced that meal.  I had Chile Relleños, but it was not like any Chile Relleños I’d had before…or since.  It was also my first experience with Tres Leches, one of my favorite desserts to this day!

Time for a confession. Um…I thought Cinco de Mayo was the celebration of Mexican Independence…in part because it such a huge celebration, and in part because I haven’t been paying enough attention…Doh!

Mexican Independence Day, celebrated annually on September 16th, celebrates the beginning of Mexico’s revolt against Spanish rule in 1808.  Cinco De Mayo celebrates Mexico defeating French invaders 50 years later at the battle of Puebla. Well at least now I know!

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One of the guidelines that makes food and wine pairing easier is to pair the foods of a place with the wines of that place (Italian food with Italian wine, Spanish food with Spanish wine,etc.)  The challenge with pairing Mexican food with Mexican wine is that Mexican wines are just now starting to come into their own.  Mexico is the land of beer and margaritas.  But one of the things I love about wine is that its agnostic, in the sense that it can be paired with virtually any cuisine.

The two bits of advice I would offer when it comes to pairing Mexican food and wine, 1.) Pair the “weight” of the dish with the “weight” of the wine (i.e. light dishes with light-bodied wines, and full-bodied dishes with full bodied wines, and 2.) Pair to the sauce on the dish, rather than meat of vegetable. For more info, check out this guide to classic Mexican wine and food pairing.

This week’s #SundaySupper Mexican Fiesta lineup will have your taste buds doing a happy dance, mariachis in hand!

My wine pairing recommendations are italicized. Since, I can’t vouch for Mexican wines yet, it’s an international coalition of wines to the rescue this week with wines from Australia, Argentina, Chile, France, Spain and the U.S. Viva Mexico!

Sopas (Soups), Ensaladas (Salads), and Entremeses (Starters)

Pair these soups, salads, and starters with Vinho Verde, a wine made in Portugal from indigenous grapes, mostly Alvarinho, the Portuguese version of Spain’s Albariño.  Verde (green) actually refers to the youthfulness of the wine, not the color.  Vinho Verde can be a white, rose, or red wine. Many are also slightly fizzy.  Regardless of the style, Vinho Verde is a fresh, food friendly wine that’s perfect both as a quaffer and for the first course. Look for 2011 Quinta da Aveleda Vinho Verde.  It’s slightly fizzy, with floral, tropical fruit and citrus aromas and flavors.

La Comida (the food)

Pair these dishes with Riesling…from France! I think of Riesling as the chef’s white wine because it’s so food friendly.  I recommend the 2010 Trimbach Riesling.  It’s dry wine from the Alsace region with delicate aromas that belie its rich, fruity tropical fruit, peach and citrus flavors.

Pair these dishes with Sauvignon Blanc, a white wine with a forthright and bold personality that pairs well seafood (including grilled seafood), and is also a match for the fresh herbs, spices, and vegetables used in these dishes. Try the 2011 Veramonte Ritual Sauvignon Blanc with its tropical fruit, floral and citrus characteristics.

Pair these dishes with Rosé, which is a very versatile food wine. One of my favorites is the 2011 Bonny Doon Vin Gris de Cigar, a welterweight wine that should pair nicely with “weight” of the dishes below.  It’s a bit unusual in that it made from both red wine and white wine grapes, rather than solely red wine grapes.  It’s a tasty blend of Grenache, Roussanne, Grenache Blanc, and Mourvèdre that is chock full of strawberry, stone fruit, watermelon, and citrus flavors.

Pair these dishes with Tempranillo from Spain. Tempranillo is a wine that is often overlooked for its food friendliness, but the Spanish are bona fide food-lovers and Tempranillo is their primary red wine. Look for the 2010 Campo Viejo Rioja Tempranillo. It’s a medium-full bodied wine that will stand up to these more substantial dishes. It’s exudes spicy red plum,and cherry characteristics with hint of tobacco.  

There are some bold flavors like chipotle, and roasted tomatoes in the following dishes.  Pair these with Malbec, a wine with plenty of succulent dark fruit that also possesses spicy, earthy, and smoky qualities that will complement the bold flavors in these dishes.  Look for 2010 Ninety Plus Cellars Lot 23 Old Vine Malbec from Argentina.

Pair these full-flavored dishes with a full-bodied with Shiraz from Australia. Look for the 2008 Jacob’s Creek Reserve Barossa Shiraz  with it jammy dark fruit, spice and vanilla flavors. 

Postres (desserts)

Pair these desserts with 2010 Quady Elysium Black Muscat, a opulent dessert wine made from black-skinned muscat grapes with rose and lychee characteristics accompanied by an acidic backbone which keeps it from being too cloying.

Pair these desserts with 2010 Cecchetti Wine Company Redtree Moscato, a slightly spritzy sweet wine with rose petal, juicy peach, vanilla, honey and hint of citrus flavors, and good acidity.

Bebidas (beverages)

Please be sure you join us for #SundaySupper on Twitter throughout the day, Sunday September 16th – as we celebrate Mexican Independence Day. We’ll be meeting up at 7:00 pm (Eastern) for our weekly #SundaySupper  live chat where we’ll talk about our favorite recipes for a Mexican Fiesta! All you have to do is follow the #SundaySupper hashtag, or you can follow us through TweetChat!  We’d also love to feature your Mexican Fiesta recipes on our #SundaySupper Pinterest board and share them with all of our followers!


  1. girlichef says:

    Martin, thank you SO much for this amazing post. I usually sort of shy away from the wine while eating Mexican cuisine (which I also think is way underrated) since I just don’t know what would pair nicely. This is such a wonderful starting point for me and I will keep it handy for the future. :)

  2. Great job Martin, you´re introducing us to so many alternatives! I especially like your dessert pairings, since I usually make desserts but never thought of pairing them with wine. Except when I bake with it! Happy Sunday!

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  4. Alaiyo Kiasi says:

    Martin, I think that I’m going to learn everything I need to know about wine from you! Excellent post.

    1. Martin D. Redmond says:

      Thanks Alaiyo! If you ever have questions, don’t hesitate to drop me a line. Happy to give you my two cents!

  5. Thanks Martin for great wine pairing ideas!

    1. Martin D. Redmond says:

      Thanks Cindy! I hope I was able to get folks to see beyond just beer and margaritas with Mexican food!

  6. juanitascocina says:

    Just what I needed, a smoky wine!

    Great pairings, Martin!

  7. smallwalletbigappetite says:

    I like you thought Cinco de Mayo was Mexican Independence day until a friend of mine corrected me a few years ago. It is actually a very common mistake. I love all the wine pairings each week, I am learning so much more about wine.

    1. Martin D. Redmond says:

      Thanks Laura – I’m having so much fun being a part of #SS! Especially this one b/c I know so many people don’t think of pairing wine with Mexican food!

  8. Wow Martin! Every time I see your pairings my wine shopping list grows. Thanks so much for the great recommendations.

    1. Martin D. Redmond says:

      Thanks Renee! All I can is…so many wines…so little time;-)!

  9. Leslie Limon says:

    Martin, I have been waiting all week to see this post and it did not disappoint! Very awesome post! Bookmarking it post for future reference.

    1. Martin D. Redmond says:

      Thanks Leslie – I’ve been looking forward to this week as well b/c so many people don’t think of pairing wine with Mexican food! It’s also got me wanting to try some Mexican wines, which I hear are very good!

  10. Martin thanks for your suggestion. Next time I make my Carnitas I will toast to you with a glass of Shiraz!

    1. Martin D. Redmond says:

      You’re welcome Veronica. The beauty of wine is that there isn’t one answer! Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, red Rhone blends will all work with Carnitas! Try a few different options and see what you like!

  11. Germanpdx says:

    Your wine pairings are amazing, Martin.

    1. Martin D. Redmond says:

      Thanks Beate! I hope you get a chance to try a wine or two!

  12. diabeticfoodie says:

    Great job! Assume my Tortilla Soup w/Roasted Vegetables would also be in the Vinho Verde category?

    1. Martin D. Redmond says:

      Shelby…yes…that’s where I thought your recipe was classified. I’ll double check. Vinho Verde is a great sipper to serve with the first course

  13. Tara Noland says:

    These are fabulous, thanks so much for this!!

    1. Martin D. Redmond says:

      Tara…Thanks! My pleasure….It’s a fair amount of work, but I’m enjoying it! The #SS bloggers are amazing…such a creative bunch!

  14. Great job with the pairings this week! I never think of wine with mexican food, but now I will!

    1. Martin D. Redmond says:

      Thanks Erin! I hope you’ll get a chance to pair wine with Mexican really can be a winning combination!

  15. Kim Bee says:

    Great pairings. I rarely drink but I think I have a nice bottle downstairs that would go well with our leftovers. Thanks for the tips!

    1. Martin D. Redmond says:

      Kim – you’re very welcome. Thanks!

  16. mommasmeals says:

    Great job! Next time I make my dish I’m having Riesling with it!! :)

    1. Martin D. Redmond says:

      Thanks Tammi! Please do give it a try…Cheers!

  17. I am loving all of these suggestions. I have to say, I am excited to see the Aveleda Vinho Verde mentioned – it became a favorite of mine this summer!

    1. Martin D. Redmond says:

      Thanks Katie…glad to hear you’re already on board with Vinho Verde…Love the Aveleda myself! Doing the pairing give me a chance to encourage folks to try different types of wines!

  18. Hezzi-D says:

    Love the pairings! I can’t wait to try the wine you mentioned with my dish-the notes of plum and cherries sound amazing!

    1. Martin D. Redmond says:

      Thanks Heather…I do hope you get a chance to try the pairing. If you do, drop me a line and let me know what you think!

  19. sunithi says:

    The wine you have paired for my dish sounds heavenly ! Thanks ! You have a way of describing wines that makes you wannnnt them :)

    1. Martin D. Redmond says:

      Thanks Sunithi! I hope you’ll get a chance to try the recommended wine. This is fun for me!

  20. Love the wine pairings. Thank you!

    1. Martin D. Redmond says:

      Thank you Megan!

  21. Thanks for the pairings again this week… I love trying new wines!

    1. Martin D. Redmond says:

      Thanks Jamie! I love trying new wines too… they say you reach a point where you stop trying new wines and just drink the same types of wine over and over…hope I never get there;-)

  22. Sarah says:

    ooooh, fizzy and fruity sound wonderful with my soup. Thank you for taking the time to pair all our dishes!

    1. Martin D. Redmond says:

      You’re welcome Sarah…my pleasure!

  23. I love all of the wine pairings!

    1. Martin D. Redmond says:

      Thanks Angie! Love your creative and delicious sounding recipes. It’s my pleasure!

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