Mexico is famous not only for its beautiful beaches and its fascinating archeological sites but also for its delicious food. Tacos, Fajitas, and many other meals are well-known around the world. And many people enjoy these dishes with a beer. But did you know that you can also have Mexican food with wine? Let’s discuss the best Mexican food and wine pairings.

The best wine to pair with Mexican food can be an unoaked red wine, a crisp white wine, or even a sweet wine. The perfect match depends primarily on the meal’s boldness and its spiciness.

To understand how to best pair Mexican food with wine, let’s talk about specific dishes and the best wine pairings. But first, let’s define some general rules to find the best wine.

General Rules for Pairing Mexican Food with Wine

While the precise dish and preparation matter a lot when pairing Mexican food with wine, the following general rules will help you find the best matches:

  • In many cases, the sauce provides the dominant flavors. Thus, choosing the wine pairing for your Mexican food based on the sauce rather than on meats or side dishes makes sense.
  • Acidic wines pair well with dishes that contain plenty of cheese or a thick creamy sauce. For other meals, better go for low-acidity wines.
  • Tannic wines don’t work with most Mexican dishes. Choose a wine with low to medium tannins instead.
  • As the Mexicans love to use spicy ingredients, consider a sweet wine with your Mexican food. The sweetness balances hot spices very well.
  • The same is true for sparkling wine, as it cleans your palate to take away the heat. You can even combine the two features by going for a sweet sparkler.
  • If you prefer dry wines, consider a red one with spicy aromas. They tend to match the spicy foods, although they won’t help you deal with the heat.

With these rules in mind, let’s get into specific Mexican food and wine pairings.

Wine with Tacos

Tacos are a popular Mexican dish that you can find on every other street corner. It comes in many different variations, of which Tacos al Pastor might be the most famous. Lebanese immigrants created this dish in the 1930s. Inspired by Shawarma, a meal from their home country, they grilled lamb meat on a rotating grill and served it on a flour tortilla.

Over the years, the lamb meat was replaced by marinated pork meat, and chefs added onions, cilantro, and typical Mexican salsa. In many cases, the tacos come with cheese as well.

The spicy meat and the intense herbs call for a fruity red wine. It should have at least a medium body and a good level of acidity to stand the tacos’ flavor profile. Unoaked Zinfandel wines from California have the right characteristics for creating a great Mexican food and wine pairing.

Seghesio Sonoma Zinfandel 2019

  • type: red, still, Vintage
  • origin: United States, California
  • varietal: Zinfandel
  • alcohol: 15.0%

Rombauer El Dorado Twin Rivers Zinfandel 2019

  • type: red, still, Vintage
  • origin: United States, California
  • varietal: Zinfandel
  • alcohol: 16.0%

Hartford Russian River Old Vine Zinfandel 2019

  • type: red, still, Vintage
  • origin: United States, California
  • varietal: Zinfandel
  • alcohol: 16.0%

If you prepare your tacos with chicken or lean beef cuts instead, go for a lighter red wine like Pinot Noir. It has enough power to deal with the meat but won’t overpower the dish like bolder wines would go.

Joseph Drouhin Laforet Pinot Noir 2019

  • type: red, still, Vintage
  • origin: France, Burgundy
  • varietal: Pinot Noir
  • alcohol: 12.5%

Remoissenet Beaune Teurons Premier Cru 2019

  • type: red, still, Vintage
  • origin: France, Burgundy
  • varietal: Pinot Noir
  • alcohol: 14.0%

Domaine Comte Georges de Vogue Bonnes-Mares Grand Cru 2018

  • type: red, still, Vintage
  • origin: France, Burgundy
  • varietal: Pinot Noir
  • alcohol: 13.0%

Both fish tacos and shrimp tacos are best with dry white wine. Acidity is vital, and citrus flavors are great add-ons for the saltiness of the seafood. Try a French Pinot Gris or a Vinho Verde from Portugal as your wine pairing for fish tacos.

Joao Portugal Ramos Alvarinho 2019

  • type: white, still, Vintage
  • origin: Portugal, Vinho Verde
  • varietal: Alvarinho
  • alcohol: 13.0%

Casa do Valle Vinho Verde Branco Grande Escolha 2019

  • type: white, still, Vintage
  • origin: Portugal, Vinho Verde
  • varietal: Alvarinho, Arinto
  • alcohol: 13.5%

JM Fonseca Twin Vines Vinho Verde 2020

  • type: white, still, Vintage
  • origin: Portugal, Vinho Verde
  • varietal: Alvarinho, Loureiro, Pedernã, Trajadura
  • alcohol: 10.0%

Wine with Chili con Carne

For many people, Chili con Carne is the most iconic of all Mexican dishes. But actually, it might not be a Mexican invention at all. Some historians claim that it comes from Texas originally. However, the ingredients and flavors of Chili con Carne definitely are typical for Mexican cuisine.

The main ingredient is ground beef. It is fried together with onions and garlic for a couple of minutes. Then, the chef adds shredded or pureed tomatoes and various spices, including chilis, cayenne pepper, oregano, and others. Together with beef stock and, in some cases, red wine, the meal simmers for up to one hour. Finally, red beans come into the mix.

Chili con Carne is a hearty stew that is full of bold aromas. To pair this Mexican food with wine, you need a red wine with a good structure. Especially GSM wines from the Rhône Valley in France are excellent pairings for Chili con Carne. These red blends made from Grenache, Mourvèdre, and Syrah have intense fruit flavors and just the right level of tannins to deal with the spicy meat.

Domaine du Vieux Telegraphe Chateauneuf-du-Pape La Crau 2019

  • type: red, still, Vintage
  • origin: France, Rhône Valley
  • varietal: Cinsault, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah
  • alcohol: 14.5%

Chateau Fortia Cuvee du Baron Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2018

  • type: red, still, Vintage
  • origin: France, Rhône Valley
  • varietal: Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah
  • alcohol: 14.5%

Guillaume Gonnet Chateauneuf du Pape Bel Ami 2019

  • type: red, still, Vintage
  • origin: France, Rhône Valley
  • varietal: Cinsault, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah
  • alcohol: 14.5%

Alternatively, try a Southamerican Wine. A Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile is a great wine with Chili con Carne, and the same is true for Malbec.

De Martino Legado Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva 2019

  • type: red, still, Vintage
  • origin: Chile, Maipo Valley
  • varietal: Cabernet Sauvignon
  • alcohol: 13.5%

Garage Wine Co. Renacido Vineyard Lot 104 Cabernet Sauvignon 2019

  • type: red, still, Vintage
  • origin: Chile, Maule Valley
  • varietal: Cabernet Sauvignon
  • alcohol: 13.5%

Hacienda Araucano Gran Araucano Cabernet Sauvignon 2018

  • type: red, still, Vintage
  • origin: Chile, Rapel Valley
  • varietal: Cabernet Sauvignon
  • alcohol: 14.0%

Santa Ema Reserve Merlot 2018

  • type: red, still, Vintage
  • origin: Chile, Maipo Valley
  • varietal: Merlot
  • alcohol: 13.5%

Lapostolle Cuvee Alexandre Merlot 2015

  • type: red, still, Vintage
  • origin: Chile, Rapel Valley
  • varietal: Merlot
  • alcohol: 15.0%

La Playa Estate Merlot 2019

  • type: red, still, Vintage
  • origin: Chile, Rapel Valley
  • varietal: Merlot
  • alcohol: 13.0%

Wine with Quesadilla

Quesadillas are another staple in Mexican cuisine, and it is around since the 16th century. Some people claim that its name derives from “quesaditzin”, meaning “folded tortilla” in the indigenous language Nahuatl. Others argue that it is a combination of “queso” (Spanish for: “cheese”) and tortilla.

No matter which explanation is correct, both describe accurately what a Quesadilla is: a fried folded corn or wheat tortilla filled with cheese and other ingredients. Many preparations come with meat, particularly ground beef, chicken, or chorizo. But you can also waive the meat and make vegetarian Quesadillas with bell peppers, onions, corn, black beans, and tomatoes.

Quesadillas with Dip

Quesadillas

In any case, chefs season their Quesadillas with a mix of spices, including salt, black pepper, cayenne, cumin, paprika, and oregano.

Combine your quesadillas with wine that is light, acidic, and off-dry to semi-sweet. The combination of acidity and sweetness works just perfectly with the spices and the cheese. Try a Pinot Gris from Alsace or a Riesling from Germany. In particular, the Spätlese (English: late harvest) and Kabinett wines are good choices.

Domaines Schlumberger Spiegel Grand Cru 2018

  • type: white, still, sweet, Vintage
  • origin: France, Alsace
  • varietal: Pinot Gris
  • alcohol: 13.5%

Albert Boxler Sommerberg Wibtal 2016

  • type: white, still, off-dry, Vintage
  • origin: France, Alsace
  • varietal: Pinot Gris
  • alcohol: 14.0%

Leon Beyer Pinot Gris 2016

  • type: white, still, off-dry, Vintage
  • origin: France, Alsace
  • varietal: Pinot Gris
  • alcohol: 13.5%

Dr. Loosen Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese 2019

  • type: white, still, Vintage
  • origin: Germany, Mosel
  • varietal: Riesling
  • alcohol: 8.5%

Schloss Vollrads Rheingau Riesling Spätlese 2016

  • type: white, still, Vintage
  • origin: Germany, Rheingau
  • varietal: Riesling
  • alcohol: 7.5%

J.J. Prum Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Kabinett 2020

  • type: white, still, Vintage
  • origin: Germany, Mosel
  • varietal: Riesling
  • alcohol: 9.0%

Sparkling wines such as Prosecco or Cava are good wine pairings for Quesadillas as well. The bubbles help you deal with the heat, and the acidic citrus flavors match the meal’s flavors deliciously. By the way, no matter which pairing of Mexican food with wine you create, sparkling wines are always good to balance the spiciness.

Cinzano Prosecco

  • type: white, sparkling
  • origin: Veneto, Italy
  • varietal: Glera
  • alcohol: 11.0%

Ca' Furlan Prosecco

  • type: white, sparkling
  • origin: Veneto, Italy
  • varietal: Glera
  • alcohol: 11.0%

Fantinel One and Only Prosecco Brut 2017

  • type: white, sparkling, Vintage
  • origin: Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy
  • varietal: Glera
  • alcohol: 12.0%

Freixenet Cordon Negro Cava Brut

  • type: white, sparkling
  • origin: Catalonia, Spain
  • varietal: Macabeo, Parellada, Xarel·lo
  • alcohol: 11.5%

Vins el Cep Kila Cava Brut 2018

  • type: white, sparkling, Vintage
  • origin: Catalonia, Spain
  • varietal: Macabeo, Parellada, Xarel·lo
  • alcohol: 12.0%

Poema Cava Brut Rosé

  • type: rosé, sparkling
  • origin: Catalonia, Spain
  • varietal: Trepat
  • alcohol: 11.5%

Wine with Mole

When discovering Mexican cuisine, you won’t get around Mole. Mole is actually not a complete dish but a sauce served with many different meals. But it is so unique in flavor that it’s worth discussing how to pair it with wine.

You can find many different variations of Mole in Mexico. One of the most famous is Mole Poblano. It is made from chilis, onions, garlic, peanuts, raisins, almonds, various herbs, and chocolate. The ingredients are toasted and cooked, and finally pureed (actually, the preparation process is much more complicated, but that would go beyond the scope of this article). The final sauce is a fascinating combination of spicy, earthy, and sweet flavors.

The right wine to pair with dishes that feature Mole is an intense red wine. Syrah or its Australian cousin Shiraz tends to be a good match, especially if it has subtle notes of chocolate itself.

Jean-Louis Chave Selection Saint-Joseph Offerus 2018

  • type: red, still, Vintage
  • origin: France, Rhône Valley
  • varietal: Syrah
  • alcohol: 13.5%

Jaboulet Crozes Hermitage Domaine de Thalabert 2019

  • type: red, still, Vintage
  • origin: France, Rhône Valley
  • varietal: Syrah
  • alcohol: 15.0%

M. Chapoutier Ermitage Le Pavillon 2006

  • type: red, still, Vintage
  • origin: France, Rhône Valley
  • varietal: Syrah
  • alcohol: 13.0%

Barossa Valley Estate Shiraz 2018

  • type: red, still, Vintage
  • origin: Australia, Barossa
  • varietal: Syrah
  • alcohol: 13.5%

Two Hands Lily's Garden Shiraz 2017

  • type: red, still, Vintage
  • origin: Australia, South Australia
  • varietal: Syrah
  • alcohol: 14.5%

Penfolds RWT Shiraz 2017

  • type: red, still, Vintage
  • origin: France, Rhône Valley
  • varietal: Syrah
  • alcohol: 14.5%

Wine with Fajitas

If you are new to Mexican cuisine, you might confuse Fajitas with Quesadillas. But actually, they are different. Fajitas are tortillas filled with meats and vegetables, but they aren’t fried. Besides, cheese is optional. When ordering Fajitas in a restaurant, you typically get a basket of warm tortillas and many bowls with different ingredients to combine them yourself.

Beef or chicken is the main ingredient in Fajitas. The meat is cut into strips and marinated in a mixture of oil, lime juice, garlic, chili peppers, and other spices. Then, it gets fried in a pan together with bell peppers and onions. To round up the flavor, you can season your Fajitas with guacamole, pico de gallo, or other Mexican salsas.

You need a fruity and spicy wine to combine this Mexican food with wine, especially when prepared with beef. A Mourvèdre (also: Monastrell) is a good pick. It is dry, not too high in acidity, and typically offers fruity, spicy, and earthy notes, making it a perfect wine for Fajitas.

Enrique Mendoza Alicante La Tremenda Monastrell 2018

  • type: white, still, Vintage
  • origin: Spain, Alicante
  • varietal: Mourvedre
  • alcohol: 14.5%

Enrique Mendoza Las Quebradas Monastrell 2018

  • type: white, still, Vintage
  • origin: Spain, Alicante
  • varietal: Mourvedre
  • alcohol: 14.5%

Bodegas Castano Monastrell 2020

  • type: white, still, Vintage
  • origin: Spain, Yecla
  • varietal: Mourvedre
  • alcohol: 14.0%

Alternatively, try Bolgheri wines with your Fajitas. The blends from Italy belong to the Super Tuscan category and are very similar to red Bordeaux wines. They are fruity, spicy, and often smoky.

Tenuta Guado al Tasso Il Bruciato 2020

  • type: red, still, Vintage
  • origin: Italy, Tuscany
  • varietal: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah
  • alcohol: 13.5%

Tenuta Le Colonne Bolgheri 2019

  • type: red, still, Vintage
  • origin: Italy, Tuscany
  • varietal: Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot
  • alcohol: 13.5%

Tenuta Guado al Tasso 2018

  • type: red, still, Vintage
  • origin: Italy, Tuscany
  • varietal: Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot
  • alcohol: 14.5%

Wine with Nachos

Finally, let’s talk about pairing nachos and wine. Nachos are a little bit younger than Tacos. They were invented in 1940 by a creative chef called Ignacio. He worked in the Victory Club in Piedras Negras, a Mexican city close to the American border when a regular customer asked for a special snack. He cut a couple of tortillas into triangles, fried them, and served them with cheese and peppers. And he named them after himself: Nacho’s Special.

Today, Nachos are a snack to enjoy with a dip when watching a movie. But in Mexiko, it’s pretty usual to eat nachos as an appetizer or even as a main course for dinner. They come with various side dishes such as ground meat, tomatoes, onions, black beans, jalapenos, guacamole, sour cream, lime juice, and -of course- cheese. Colby Jack and Cheddar are the most common types of cheese for this purpose.

Glass of Red Wine with Mexican Food, including Nachos

Nachos with Various Toppings

The best way to pair this Mexican food with wine is to go for white wine, for instance, Sauvignon Blanc. It has just the right level of acidity to cut through the cheese and the creamy dips, and its citrus and mineral flavors add greatly to the meal.

J. de Villebois Sancerre 2020

  • type: white, still, Vintage
  • origin: France, Loire Valley
  • varietal: Sauvignon Blanc
  • alcohol: 13.0%

Domaine Paul Buisse Touraine Sauvignon 2020

  • type: white, still, Vintage
  • origin: France, Loire Valley
  • varietal: Sauvignon Blanc
  • alcohol: 13.5%

Alphonse Mellot La Moussiere Sancerre Blanc 2020

  • type: white, still, Vintage
  • origin: France, Loire Valley
  • varietal: Sauvignon Blanc
  • alcohol: 13.0%

In case you are more into red wine, combine a Beaujolais wine with your Nachos. This wine from France is light- to medium-bodied, has decent acidity levels, and almost no tannins.

Nicole Chanrion Domaine de la Voute des Crozes Cote de Brouilly 2020

  • type: red, still, Vintage
  • origin: France, Tuscany
  • varietal: Gamay
  • alcohol: 13.0%

Chateau des Bachelards Fleurie Le Clos 2018

  • type: red, still, Vintage
  • origin: France, Tuscany
  • varietal: Gamay
  • alcohol: 13.5%

Domaine de Colette Morgon 2018

  • type: red, still, Vintage
  • origin: France, Tuscany
  • varietal: Gamay
  • alcohol: 13.0%

Final Words

Serving Mexican food with wine might not be the most intuitive thing. But there are many ways to combine the many delicious foods from Central America and a good glass of wine. With the details from this article, you are ready to do so. Enjoy!