Raise Your Wine Glasses on Cinco De Mayo… Try Mexican Wines, Yes Mexican Wines
Many of us will celebrate Cinco De Mayo in a few days. Cinco De Mayo celebrates the Mexican army’s 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War. For many Americans Cinco De Mayo is the commemoration of Mexican culture and heritage. For others, it is an exploration of 2 for 1 Margaritas or Corona Beers. (no judgement) Instead of toasting the Mexican army’s victory with tequila, try Mexican wines.
Yes, I said wines. You may be thinking anybody can make wine but is Mexican wine good. The answer is a resounding YES! Recently, I tried L.A. Cetto wines. L.A. Cetto is the largest winemaker in the Guadalupe Valley. Guadalupe Valley wine region is near the Pacific coast in Ensenada area of Baja California. Baja California is an ideal grape growing area because of its Mediterranean climate and its sandy soil. Close to 90 percent of wine is produced in this area. Cabernet Sauvignon, Nebbiolo, Barbera and Tempranillo are popular grapes grown in this region.
L.A. Cetto is one of the oldest vineyards in Mexico established in the 1920s. Cetto family immigrated from Italy bringing old world charm and utilizing modern grape growing techniques to cultivate its vineyards. Over time, Cetto family purchased several smaller vineyards and became the largest vintner in the region.
2016 Sauvignon Blanc
The Sauvignon Blanc has a beautiful cornflower yellow color that magically reflects the light. Traditional aromas, like lemongrass and spring flowers capture your nose. Mexico’s extremely warm temperatures has an influence on the grape flavors producing tropical flavors. Kiwi and earthy flavors, like tomato, are on the palate. This is a departure from New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs, which have fresh cut grass flavors. I love this departure. Pour me more! This Sauvignon Blanc is well balanced with a short finish. It is perfect to drink by itself or pair with your favorite Mexican dish. I enjoyed it with fresh salsa and chips.
2014 Petite Sirah
The Petite Sirah is a gorgeous jewel tone wine. It is a deep ruby color. Smokey and slate aromas are on the nose. Blackberry scents greet your nose as well. The wine is fruity without being jammy. Pomegranate and cherries flavors are prominent. It is a medium body wine with medium tannin. This is a great wine to have with grilled meat, perfect for the summer.
L.A. Cetto wines are reasonably priced. They range from $8.00 – $17.00 a bottle. You can find them at large wine stores in the Washington and Baltimore area. Try a Mexican wine this weekend and let us know what you think. Cheers!
Wine and Cheese… Tips to Having an Awesome Pairing
Recently Vino 301 launched a Wine and Cheese tour with two amazing partners, Romano Vineyard and Winery (Brandywine, MD) and PA Bowen Farmstead (Brandywine, MD). Obviously, we are pairing Romano’s finest wines with PA Bowen award-winning raw milk artisan cheeses. When we were selecting which cheeses and wines to pair we started with the cheeses. Yes, the cheese not the wine! Most people assume you should start with the wine and build the meal around the wine. Well, you would be wrong. Any good food and wine pairing starts with the food. Food has more impact on how a wine will taste. This is especially true with cheeses. It is more than likely cheese will have a negative impact on the taste of wine. Here are some tips to have an awesome wine and cheese pairing.
Cheese is fatty
Your taste buds immediately perceive levels of sugar, salt and acid when you taste food. And, this is great to apply general tasting principals like sweet food with sweet wine, acidic food with high acid white wines, or salty food with tannic red wines. These rules do not always apply to cheese pairings. Cheese can confuse your taste buds. Cheese is fatty and will coat your tongue, like a thin coat of pollen on your car in the beginning of spring. The mouth coating effect may impair your sense of taste especially with wine.
Go for intensity
Gauge the cheese flavor intensity when you are matching it to wine. You want to make sure the wine or cheese does not overpower the other. For example, an intense blue cheese can be paired with a light flavored Riesling. This pairing is balanced. The Riesling will not overshadow the cheese. Pairing a bold, rich Cabernet Sauvignon with Gorgonzola is a battle of flavors. It is like watching the Ali-Frazier fight, down goes Frazier. The Cabernet and Gorgonzola flavors are competing with each other.
Acid can be fat best friend
Acid and fat combinations are an unlikely pair, but many people enjoy the combo. Acidic wines like Pinot Gris, Albariño, and Grüner Veltliner cut through the fat. Remember the fatty coat we discussed earlier, these wines will cut through that coat. They are the Edward Scissorhands of the wine world. Try mozzarella, feta and goat cheese with these wines.
Fruity with savory flavors
There is a component in food known as umami. Umami is the savory taste. People often refer to mushrooms when describing it. This flavor is found in hard cheeses. Hard cheeses like cheddar, parmesan and gruyere should be paired with fruit forward wines, such as Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc. Look for wines with mild tannin but have a lot of fruity character.
If this is overwhelming, no worries. Below is a 2015 Wine Enthusiast Magazine wine and cheese guide you can use to have an awesome pairing. Share your favorite cheese and wine pairing with us. Leave your wine and cheese pairing in the blog comment section.
Wine and Cheese Pairing Examples
Credit: WINE ENTHUSIAST, 2015