The commemoration of the Mexican army’s victory over French forces on May 5th, 1862—Cinco de Mayo—has become a celebration in the US that rivals Halloween, St. Patrick’s Day, and even New Year’s Eve as a night to party with friends. As with many other “going out” holidays, Cinco de Mayo has become a good news-bad news situation: if you've evolved beyond sweet barbecue sauce-smothered nachos and even sweeter margaritas, you may be out of luck if you want to have a good time. Our advice? Invite a small group over, cook a few Mexican-style classics, and let the wine flow.
Restaurant Style Nachos topped with leftover steak, refried beans, cheese, and jalapenos need a wine that can hold up to meat, creaminess, and spice. Kendall Jackson Grand Reserve Merlot has intense black currant flavor with notes of chocolate, soft tannins and a nice burst of acidity on the finish.
The classic flavors of avocado, cilantro, and lime in any of your favorite guacamoles call for a wine that can stand up to all three. Try it with an Albariño from Spain’s Rias Baixas region. Valmiñor Albariño offers a combination of green apple and grapefruit flavors along with a delightfully bright finish. It's crisp and clean with a nice vein of minerality.
An enticing blend of spices in Pork Carnita Tacos makes them a real crowd-pleaser alongside a young, fruity Malbec. Trumpeter Malbec, from Mendoza, Argentina, features a burst of fruit flavors that include cherry, black plum, and raspberry. Nice mouthfeel and soft tannins are a nice backdrop for final notes of black pepper and orange zest.
Mercadito’s Flautas, made with chicken barbacoa and tomatillo salsa, need a wine that is bold enough to hold up to fiery spice but soft enough for chicken—and Pinot Noir is the ideal choice. Santa Rita 120 Pinot Noir from Chile, an easy-drinking medium bodied wine, has flavors of black cherry and strawberry with notes of mocha and pipe tobacco.
When Smoky Habanero Chili is on the menu, look for the type of wine you would choose for barbecued meats. Louis M Martini Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon has a wonderful balance of acidity and rich tannins, with flavors of black cherry, cassis, and Mediterranean herbs and just a hint of smokiness.