Although Mexico is home to wine production, wine and tacos are not often associated with each other. The majority of locals favor their tequila or an ice-cold cerveza over wine. While the classics pair very well together, we will explore new combinations to make your next Mexican night an unforgettable experience.

Wine and tacos go well together. (Credit: GKing/

Classic Beef Tacos

For the robust and earthy flavors of a classic beef taco, filled with spiced ground meat, we seek a wine that can stand up to hearty flavors without overwhelming them.

As the Spanish say, their national grape has a temperament; indeed, Tempranillo offers a balance of fruit and structure. With its notes of cherry and tomato, along with savory undertones, it echoes the base elements of many taco seasonings. Its inherent spiciness plays nicely with the smoky cumin and garlic found in these seasonings. The grape's medium body doesn't overpower the beef, and the oak aging imparts a subtle vanilla undertone that can round out the savory spices.

Merlot is another good choice because of its softer tannin structure and juicy acidity. It envelops the savory flavors of the beef without competing for attention. The plummy notes and hints of chocolate and herbs in a Merlot can act as a smooth backdrop to the taco’s flavors, supporting rather than overshadowing the main ingredient. Also a Merlot Rosé would be a great choice.

Adobe Guadalupe Gabriel

Carnitas Tacos

Carnitas, with its rich fattiness and caramelization, needs wines that offer a counterpoint to both richness and the subtle sweetness that comes from slow cooking.

Grenache is juicy and typically has a peppery note that harmonizes with the spice rub on the carnitas. Its low tannin levels and high fruit intensity cleanse the palate without overwhelming the nuanced flavors of the pork.

Riesling, particularly when it's off-dry, provides a sweet contrast to the savory pork while its high acidity cuts through the fattiness, resetting your palate with each sip. The wine’s fruitiness complements any sweet elements like the orange often used in carnitas marinade.

Charles Smith Kung Fu Girl Riesling

Chicken Tacos

Chicken is a milder meat and thus pairs well with wines that have a subtle complexity.

Sauvignon Blanc has a high acidity and citrus notes which mirror the squeeze of lime often added to chicken tacos. It can cut through any creaminess (like avocado or cheese) and enhance the herbs and spices. A neutral Sancerre should do the trick.

Pinot Noir offers a light body with flavors of red fruit, earth, and spice, providing a compliment without overwhelming the chicken. If your taco has a richer sauce like mole, the complexity of a Pinot Noir with its subtle undertones of clove and cinnamon can be a particularly sophisticated match.

Fish Tacos

They often come with a slaw or a fruit salsa, and require a wine that can handle a variety of flavors and textures.

Albariño has a crisp acidity and salinity that acts like a squeeze of lemon on fish, brightening the flavors while matching well with any herbaceous elements or creamy sauces.

Agro de Bazán Granbazán Etiqueta Verde Albariño

Rosé is versatile, with enough weight to handle fish and a citrusy acidity that can stand up to accompaniments. It’s especially good with tacos featuring tomato-based salsas, as the acid in the wine and the acid in the tomatoes will complement each other.

French Blue Bordeaux Rosé

Shrimp Tacos

Shrimp has a delicate sweetness that is enhanced by wines that share a fruity profile but also possess a bright acidity.

Chenin Blanc has both of these components. With its fruity flavors of quince and apples, it echoes the sweetness of shrimp while delivering enough acidity to cut through any richer toppings or sauces.

Viognier has a bold bouquet of stone fruits and a creamy texture that pairs well with the richness of shrimp. It’s particularly complimentary if your tacos have a tropical salsa or a spicy element, as Viognier has a full-bodied nature that can handle spice well.

Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc - Viognier

Veggie Tacos

Veggie tacos can vary widely, but they often have a herby freshness or a savoriness (umami) that benefits from the right wine.

Verdejo is herbal and aromatic, which can complement green veggies like peppers and zucchinis, while its acidity is a refreshing counterpoint to any richness from avocado or cheese.

Sangiovese has a bright acidity and savory character that pairs well with tomato-based or mushroom-heavy tacos. The wine's subtle earthy notes can enhance the umami flavors of the vegetables.

Poliziano Vino Nobile di Montepulciano

Spicy Tacos

Spicy tacos need wines that can stand up to the heat and provide a refreshing or sweet balance.

Gewürztraminer has a lychee and rose petal sweetness which can provide a cooling effect against the spice, while its natural spiciness complements the heat rather than clashes with it.

Syrah, sometimes referred to as Shiraz, offers bold fruit flavors and a peppery quality that can echo the spice in the taco, with enough body and tannins to not be overshadowed by strong flavors.

Barbacoa Tacos

Barbacoa, the meat from the cow's head, is characterized by its deep, rich flavors and often a touch of sweetness from slow cooking.

Malbec has dark fruit flavors and a smoky undertone that aligns perfectly with the charred edges and tender center of barbacoa. Its full body can stand up to the meat’s richness.

Catena Malbec

Zinfandel has a bold fruitiness and a hint of sweetness that can complement the complex spices and slight sugar in the barbacoa’s marinade, without competing with its flavors.

Al Pastor Tacos

The combination of marinated pork with pineapple in al pastor tacos offers a unique profile that needs a wine with both sweetness and acidity.

Riesling strikes that balance, especially in its off-dry styles. The wine’s stone fruit flavors complement the sweet and sour character of the pineapple, while its acidity cuts through the richness of the pork.

Cava brings in effervescence which cleanses the palate, and its lemony acidity works well with the citrusy elements of the taco’s marinade.

Tacos are as versatile as wine. (Credit: DallE)

All these variations and types of tacos provide wine lovers with an opportunity to delve deeply into the world of wine. However, we have some favorite universal wines that pair wonderfully with tacos. Explore VinoVoss to discover your next favorite versatile wine for your taco party.

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