Each month members of the Court of Master Sommeliers, an international association of wine experts, suggest pairings for popular menu items. Here they offer us both premium and bargain suggestions to enjoy with Mexican food. The sommeliers do not have a financial interest in any of their recommendations.
Wayne Belding, MS, Vintage Advantage, Boulder, Colo.
Premium wine: 2009 Justin Paso Robles Syrah, California
Grape variety: Syrah
Taste profile: It exudes rich blackberry and blackcurrant fruit backed by hints of vanilla and black-peppery spice.
Pairings: The exotic, spicy richness of mole will marry beautifully with the intense fruit and inherent spice of this wine.
Average wholesale case price: $210
Value wine: 2009 Castelvero Barbera del Piemonte, Italy
Grape variety: Barbera
Taste profile: With red cherry, plum and subtle spice notes, this Barbera invigorates and cleanses the palate when paired with boldly-flavored food.
Pairings: Try this with a beef and cheese enchilada platter. The palate-cleansing acidity will cut through the cheesy richness and let the fruit marry with the chile and beef.
Average wholesale case price: $80
Drew Hendricks, MS, wine director, Pappas Restaurants, Houston
Premium wine: 2008 Penfolds “Bin 28 Kalimna,” South Australia
Grape variety: Shiraz
Taste profile: Rich and intense, notes of blackberry jam and vanilla precede mocha and leather aromas. The palate is bold and expressive with vanilla and baking spices.
Pairings: Carne asada and carnitas work well with this rich and spicy wine.
Average wholesale case price: $245
Value wine: NV Bandit “Sangria,” California
Grape varieties: N/A
Taste profile: Fresh and fruity, bright citrus and tropical fruit flavors. Crisp and delicious with the sweetness that makes sangria so drinkable.
Pairings: What could be better than sangria and Mexican food? The sweetness works well with spice, the acidity works well with rich foods. Try it with spicy chicken or beef enchiladas, or tacos.
Average wholesale case price: $82 for 12 1-liter Tetra Packs
Shayn Bjornholm, MS, examination director, Court of Master Sommeliers, Americas,
Bainbridge Island, Wash.
Premium wine: 2009 Willi Schaefer “Wehlener Sonnenuhr Kabinett” Riesling, Mosel, Germany
Grape variety: Riesling
Taste profile: A crisp, clean, low alcohol, green apple-driven slate bomb with honeyed flowers to balance the high acid and searing finish.
Pairing: Light bodied, spice-and-citrus driven fish fare, such as abulón campechana — a mixed seafood cocktail with fresh lime drizzle.
Average wholesale case price: $216
Value wine: 2010 Charles and Charles Red, Washington State
Grape varieties: 50 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 50 percent Syrah
Taste profile: Blackberry pie filling, cracked pepper, slight vanillin and baking spice, juicy with a warm finish.
Pairings: Fat, gamy, bloody, well-salted meats from four legged friends, such as very lightly spiced lamb asada with huitlacoche.
Average wholesale case price: $84
Learn more: Meet the Master Sommeliers. Check out bios and photos.