Ask the Chef: Cinco de Mayo
Cinco de Mayo is the celebration of Mexico’s victory over the French army on May 5, 1862 in Puebla, east of Mexico City. Even though the victory lifted moral for the Mexican Army, it was short-lived and France’s victory over Mexico and their subsequent rule lasted until 1867. But, Mexico still celebrates the holiday every year. Fiestas, food, and drink have always been an integral part of the celebration, however wine is not. So, we decided to illicit the advice of Chef Tracy to help Wine Oh’s everywhere to turn a typical tequila and beer dominated holiday into a Cinco De Mayo wine party!
Mexican food is known to pair well with tequila, beer and margaritas, but not wine! Do you think wine has a chance to pair well Mexican food?
Of course! There is always something for everyone and really any food can be paired with a wine. Mexican food isn’t always spicy. We can control the heat if we want to pair it with wine, so both can be enjoyed equally. Now, there are some wines that pair better with spicier foods like zinfandel with molé or a nice chilled sauvignon blanc with chips and salsa. Of course, if one’s tradition is to have margaritas on Cinco de Mayo, try a wine margarita!
What are your favorite wines to drink for Cinco de Mayo?
Zinfandels always pair well with spiciness or a crisp unoaked chardonnay can offset the boldness and the spiciness of the salsa. But, we must be careful with spice, as overpowering food or wine can ruin that match made in heaven.
Here are some recipes from Chef Tracy’s kitchen along with some recommended wine pairings.
Tracy’s Mejor Chile Rellenos con Chipotle Salsa
4 Pasilla peppers
1 package Queso Fresca (Mexican cheese)
8 egg whites
1/2 cup from on can of chipotle sauce
1 cup sour cream
Salt and Pepper to taste
Remove seeds from chili peppers and roast until tender. Fill with cheese. Whip egg whites to a foam. Dip Pasilla peppers in flour, then egg whites. Deep fry until golden. Combine chipotle sauce with sour cream. Top with chipotle sauce and crumbled Queso Fresca
Wine pairing: A unoaked or lightly oak Sauvignon Blanc that has good acidity and crisp citrus notes with round mouthfeel.
Lindsey recommends: 2009 Occasio Winery, Sauvignon Blanc, Livermore Valley
Te Encantará Beef Sopes
1 cup cook shredded beef
3 cups corn masa
1 cup refried beans
½ cup sliced cabbage
¼ cup sour cream
1 package Queso fesco (Mexican cheese)
Form masa into a 4” circle and deep fry until golden brown. Remove center of sopé to create a bowl. Fill with refried beans, beef, cabbage and top with sour cream, Fresco Quesa, and salsa of your choice
Wine pairing: A Cabernet with rich notes of cassis, tobacco, chocolate, and soft, smooth tannins. Avoid a Cabernet Sauvignon that is overly spicy or herbaceous like eucalyptus and mint notes.
Lindsey recommends: 2008 Gallo Family Vineyards, Signature Series, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Tracy’s Fresca Guacamole
4 avocados mashed or diced
1/2 bunch of cilantro, chopped
2 diced roma tomatoes
Juice of 2 limes
1/4 chopped red onion
Salt and Pepper to taste
Mix all ingredients together and serve with chips or garnish on Mexican dishes.
Wine Pairing: A young, fresh, crisp, minerally champagne with citrus notes and good acidity. Get a wine that highlights the freshness of the avocado and herbaceousness of the cilantro.
Lindsey recommends: Bryter Estates, “Le Stelle”, North Coast, Brut Sparkling Wine
Grande Vino Blanco Margarita
1 Bottle of unoaked white wine (any kind under $10)
Equal parts sweet & sour
4 oz. Cointreau
2 oz. lemon simple syrup
2 oz.lime juice
2 limes sliced
2 lemons sliced ice
For a blended margarita, combine all liquid ingredients and place in a blender with ice. Blend until desired consistency. Serve in a large rimmed salted glass. For a margarita on the rocks, put all liquid ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. In a tall glass with ice, strain liquid over the ice. For both drinks, squeeze a lemon twist on the top and garnish with lime slices.
About Chef Tracy: Executive Chef Tracy Flores has over thirty years experience in the kitchen. She currently is the executive chef at Castlewood Country Club. You can read more about Chef Tracy here.