Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Wines for Cinco de Mayo

By Liza B. Zimmerman

If you don't want to get your Tequila on for next week's holiday, I have some alternative wine solutions to help you celebrate. Many of them even go well with Mexican foods and flavors if you want to partake of the cuisine without cocktails.

The jalapenos in Mexican food and cheese-laden and rice-filled dishes call for wines with bright acidity and a touch of residual sugar. Some of the fresh, California-produced wines like Joel Gott will do the trick. Also Sauvignon Blancs from South Africa, where wine production is getting better and better, are fantastic values and food wines. France's Loire Valley makes some beautiful ones, as does Chile.

Sparkling wines, particularly anything from the dynamic Gruet family in New Mexico would also pair splendidly with Mexican flavors. Proseccos and Cavas are solid choices as well.

Celebrate Tequila in Spirit
Many of the best Tequilas have a maderized flavor, similar to Sherry, which gives beverages a rich and somewhat oxidized flavor. So why not start with Sherry, the Queen of maderized wines, is great as an appertif and works well with nutty flavors such as pistaccio-flecked salads. It is also great in cocktails.

Other notably oxidized wines generally include the Rhône whites such as Marsanne, Roussane and Viognier. Their style is similar when they are produced in Washington and parts of California as well. Many producers in Washington, primarily in the Eastern part of the state, as well as Paso Robles in Central California, are doing a spectacular job with these wines.

Getting in a Latin Mood
If you can't be in Mexico but long for that relaxing Latin vibe take a little South American vacation in a bottle. Argentina and Chile are both producing some amazing, and completely different, wines. Chile, for me, is all about elegance and balance in both its single varietals and blends.

Moderating breezes from the Ocean and mountain ranges that protect and insulate vineyards support producers' goals of producing fruit-forward and food-friendly wines. Cousino-Macul is not only a great winery, but also has a great homebase that can be visited pretty close to downtown Santiago.

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

Liza Zimmerman has been writing and consulting about wine and food for two decades. She is principal of the San Francisco-based Liza the Wine Chick wine writing, education and consulting firm. She has worked on staff and freelance at national magazines such as Wine Enthusiast, The Magazine of La Cucina Italiana, Wine Spectator, Where SF and the Examiner. She currently contributes to Cheers, Wine Business Monthly and the Examiner, among others.

Zimmerman focuses on demystifying wine and transforming it into a tool for business and networking for companies all over the country. Past clients include Genentech, Roche and IBM.

She has visited all the world’s major wine regions and is one of select few in the U.S. to hold the Diploma of Wine & Spirits (D.W.S.), the three-year precursor to the Master of Wine.

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