Mofo guide to pairing | Tacos
Taco night - pick an evening, any evening - they're always welcome at the table. It’s become an event that’s as tasty as it is uniquely shaped to whatever you and your loved ones like to chow down on.
So what do you pair with the most customisable full-of-flavour meal in town? Here’s what we’d be matching to the classics.
Baja fish tacos - Sauvignon blanc or albariño
We’ll start off with a first-rate pairing - zesty light fish tacos and a zesty light wine are real winners together, and you don’t get much more zesty and light that sauvignon blanc or albariño. It’s like adding an extra citrus squeeze over the top of the dish, though the advantage of sauvignon blanc or albariño is that they often come with clean saline-mineral streak to compliment the fish, plus “greener” grassy-herbal notes that’ll also pair well with coriander - or even jalapeño, if you’re feeling bold. Load up a taco, fill up a glass, and welcome yourself to a bright fiesta of flavour.
Black bean and charred corn tacos - Chardonnay
Chardy might not have that classic Latin heritage, but it’s going to have everything you’re going to need to pair with the flavours here and then some, without overwhelming the whole affair. We’d be looking at a warmer climate chardy (somewhere like Margs River would fit the bill) that’s seen some time in oak and has the backbone to match those rich, charred, nutty and smoky flavours you’ll find in a black bean and charred corn taco. Plus, you’re also likely to find some stone fruit flavours in your glass that are going to compliment any salsa you’re heaping on too. Sunny and satisfying.
Check out: Sidewood Mappinga Chardonnay 2021
Chicken mole tacos - Malbec
How can we go about describing the indescribable taste of mole? If you’ve had it, you’ll know - if you’ve not, strap in. It can broadly be described as a dark sauce that's a mix of dark chocolate and earthy chilli typically served over chicken, arguably as synonymous with Mexico as Frida Kahlo or Pancho Villa. The “authentic” versions (and they vary) have an average of 20-30 ingredients with some mole recipes calling for 10 different varieties of chiles alone. So what to pair with the dish that has everything? With all the variables at play, we’re stripping back to those core dark chocolate and earthy notes, and opting for malbec with this mofo - despite the fact we’re dealing with a “light” protein in the chicken, the dense sauce is going to need a robust sparring partner that’s capable of bringing its own earthy chocolate notes, as well as some dark fruit to contrast. Rich, satisfying, complex.
Check out: Vinalba Malbec 2022
Pibil pork tacos - Tempranillo or pinot noir
Hailing from the Yucatan region of Mexico, pibil pork is traditionally prepared by marinating pork in a rich blend of achiote paste, orange juice, lime juice, garlic, and other aromatic spices. Slow-roasted, shredded and served on a soft corn tortilla, along with pickled onions, fresh cilantro, and a squeeze of lime, it's a dish that’s earthy, succulent, tangy, slightly sweet - aka full of flavours which can be tricky to pair to. But for a dish with earthy succulence and a tangy hint of fruit, look for a tempranillo or a pinot noir. Bursting with red fruits and with a good level of acidity to boot, they’re wines that are also known for sometimes bringing that earthy complexity along for the ride too, creating a whole heap of complementary and contrasting flavours with that melt-in-your-mouth pork.
Carne asada tacos - Grenache, GSM or cabernet sauvignon
Carne asada might literally translate from Spanish to “roast meat”, but here you’ll find juicy grilled beef strips that have been marinated in a proprietary citrus-and-spice mix, a little bit like pibil pork but with the extra depth and savouriness that grilled beef brings to the party. So if we’re looking for a wine that’s got that extra depth, our eyes are turning to a classic grenache or cab sauv blends to pair. If you’re looking for a wine that’s more typically red-fruit forward then opt for a grenache - if dark fruits and savouriness are more your bag then go cab sauv. And if you can’t decide? A great GSM has got you covered - brightness and depth in equal measure. Choose your own delicious adventure.
Those are our picks, but as always - you know you, and the wines you enjoy. The joy is always in discovering a new pairing, so never shy away from mixing it up and experimenting.
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