Wine Pairings for Mexican Food

A wooden platter with tortilla shells and slices of steak with a bowl of green chimichuri sauce

It may seem like Mexico is the land of tequila and cerveza, but there’s a strong wine culture in the country as well. In fact, Mexico has been making wine for about 300 years, and is home to some of the oldest wine regions in North America. The bulk of wine production is in the mountainous region of Baja in the north, where cooling breezes from the Pacific Ocean help moderate the climate.

Mexico – and its cuisine – is so broad and diverse, it’s impossible to just pick one wine to go with everything. Even to narrow down a specific food, for example tacos, come in so many versions that it’s still futile to find one, perfect bottle.

Instead, consider the flavours on the plate and pair with specific spices, herbs, and sauces.

Related: Rosé Sangria recipe

A close up of a woman's hands holding a glass of red wine in one hand and a plate of tacos in the other
Cilantro, cumin, thyme, Mexican oregano, tomatillo, lime

The abundance of bright, fresh, verdant herbs and fruit in Mexican cooking is part of what makes it so deeply flavourful and delicious. When these flavours dominate the dish, reach for an equally herbaceous wine such as Sauvignon Blanc or Verdejo.

Mole, adobo, achiote, ranchero, red chile

These smoky, deep sauces are often slow roasted with a mix of ingredients like peppers, bitter chocolate, and tomatoes. A red that balances savoury with ripe fruit, such as a medium bodied Cabernet Franc, from Ontario or the Loire, offers up complimentary notes of dried leaves, smoke, and cherry fruit.

Barbacoa, carne asada, chorizo, carnitas

Preparations like al pastor, barbecue, slow roasting, and fire grilling give meats like beef and pork a sweet, smoky flavour. Chilean Carmenere has a steak-spice and char note, which work really well with grilled meats flavoured spices. 

Rice dishes like arroz con polo or beans and rice

Rice-based dishes have some weight from the carbs and an earthy flavour, especially with the introduction of beans. An wine like Pinot Noir from California is both fruit forward and has juicy acidity to help brighten up the dish.


Ceviche and other light seafood dishes can be easily overwhelmed. But a Brut Cava (a sparkling wine from Spain) is an elegant complement to these preparations.

Related: What's the difference Between Champagne and Sparkling Wine

But watch for heat

If the sauces, spices, and preparations from any of the above tip the Scoville scales into a more fiery profile, quench the heat with a low alcohol and off-dry wine. The sweetness will balance the spice and the low alcohol cools the palate. Wines like Riesling and Gewurztraminer are easy pairings. You could also go with Moscato d’Asti or fruity Prosecco, but beware of the bubbles; sparkling wine that’s particularly fizzy may aggravate a blistering tongue.   

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