It’s another cozy night in and having recently discovered the gustatory glory that is pairing indie wines with Chinese, pizza and Thai takeout, we’re headed south of the border with a glass (or two) of wine in hand. Even if you’ll be dining from the fissure between the couch cushions, be sure to treat your burrito to its own plate – no crinkly tin containers allowed on this trip.
Margaritas go mano en mano with Mexican food and we’re all for them...but mostly when someone else is squeezing the limes and salting the rim of our glass. Beer’s good too. But somehow, even with the lime, a Corona never tastes the way it does on a beach. Life is hard!
Wine to the rescue. But not just any wine. With Mexican food, just like with Thai food, you get a ton of bright and earthy flavors in a sweeping spectrum of spiciness. Lime juice, tomatoes, tomatillos, avocado, crema, cilantro and corn mingle with garlic, onions, cumin and chiles (both fresh and roasted). Mole combines dried chiles, nuts, baking spices, raisins, chocolate and more into a sauce so layered and complex that only wine, with its own countless nuances, could even dare to measure up.
With the cuisine’s livelier dishes (anything with salsa or citrus or green, verdant sauces), a zesty, high-acid white works magic. Hola Forlorn Hope’s Verdelho – a Portuguese grape grown in California soil. The same way the zing from the lime slices, and the cilantro and radish wedges served with your carnitas electrify and brighten your palate, so does the acidity and herbaceousness of this wine. With a texture that’s almost satiny, it achieves an elusive balance by having some satisfying weight on the palate while still refreshing it with every sip.
If your order is on the meatier, richer side – say braised beef short ribs or chicken mole poblano – you’ll do muy bien with the red counterpart to the Verdelho, Forlorn Hope’s Alvarelhao. Richly aromatic yet plenty lithe, this wine’s acidity ziplines through the meats’ fattiness while its woodsy, blackberry flavors underline the smoky, dried fruitiness of the sauces. If we didn’t want to be in on this so badly, we’d leave these two alone for a bit.
And if Seamless is bringing Mexican chopped salad plus chicken adobo enchiladas? Eat in courses, having a little Verdelho first and then a glass of Alvarelhao. Leftover wine and leftover takeout are a match made in heaven too.
Next week, we’re ordering Indian!