What to DRINK With that – Mexican: Modern & Traditional


L-R: Brenda Sopow, Mark Davidson, Brooke Delves

What to DRINK with That – Mexican: Modern & Traditional 

DRINK editor Treve Ring asks local wine experts how they would approach pairing dishes and flavours. This time we are focusing on Mexican: Modern & Traditional.


Our Experts:

Brooke Delves (BD)
Sommelier, Wildebeest
Recognized as one of the Vancouver’s foremost hospitality and wine professionals, Brooke Delves first discovered her passion for the restaurant world at a young age, while helping out at her mother’s café. She then spent a number of years studying the art of service and worked her way up to management positions in several Vancouver hotspots. After completing her certificate levels with the International Sommelier Guild, she worked at wine-savvy Salt Tasting Room as assistant manager for two and a half years before managing the wine program, staff education, and service at celebrated Thai restaurant Maenam. In 2012, Brooke was named to the Premier Crew at the Vancouver Magazine Restaurant Awards, which recognizes outstanding service in the industry. At Wildebeest, Brooke directs and curates an impressive wine program dedicated to highlighting small and unique producers for the restaurant and its wine bar, The Underbelly.

Mark Davidson (MD)
Education Director for Wine Australia
Born in London, raised in Sydney Mark has over twenty five years experience in the hotel and restaurant business, fifteen of those as a Sommelier. In 1990 Mark was named Best French Wine and Spirit Sommelier in British Columbia and in 2001 he was name Sommelier of the Year by the British Columbia Restaurant and Food Service Association. As a Department Head and instructor with the International Sommelier Guild he was instrumental in the on going development of the curriculum and has taught classes in Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego and Las Vegas. In 2012 he passed the tasting portion of the Master of Wine program and will be sitting the theory section in June 2013

Brenda Sopow (BS)
Product Consultant, Fort Street Signature Store BCLDB
Brenda’s love affair with wine started in earnest when she arrived in Victoria in 1986 and began working with the BCLDB.  There, she discovered others who were passionate about wine and joined a small but very exuberant club called the WineSwines, later becoming the Victoria Wine Society. In 1997, she moved into the position as Product Consultant at what is now the Fort Street Signature Liquor Store. There, she completed WSET Level 3 (with distinction), and recently, the French Wine Scholar program.  Many years of bringing customers and wine together make up her informal, yet valuable experience.


What to DRINK with: Modern Mexican

Yucatan Pork  : Achiote pork slow roasted in banana leaves with caramelized onion, orange, cinnamon, honey lime yams, caramelized brussels sprouts, pineapple jicama salsa

BD. Aged white Rioja! I may be playing favorites but I can’t help myself when it comes to the rich and oxidative style of this wine. It lifts the aromatics of the cumin and coriander in the achiote and makes ANYTHING caramelized really sing. It’s exotic and built for food with a nose of smoked apricot and pineapple with all those delicious nutty undertones. This Viura, Malvasia blend plays in tandem to every aspect of this dish.

MD. Rheingau or Pfalz Riesling. Halb-trocken. While this dish has lovely savory elements from the slow roasted nature of the pork there’s some serious sweet too. I want the wine to have lively fruit to match those elements , crisp acidity to echo the citrus components and enough weight to not be over powered, hence the halb-trocken style. Schmeckt Gut……

BS. There are earthy notes as well as savory and warm spice in the achiote, so thinking about them makes me want to recommend a lighter bodied old world wine like a Rioja crianza to reflect that.  It should have youthful fruit, bright acidity and not much oak, allowing it to get along with the other flavours in the dish.  Otherwise I might focus on the richness of the pork and the caramelized onion with the citrus and tropical fruit.  An off-dry white such as a Chenin Blanc from the Loire or Alsatian Pinot Gris should be weighty and acidic enough as counterpoint. My choice of red or white would reflect the season and the time of day. 


Traditional Mexican

Carnitas Pork Burrito  : Pork butt, garlic, onions, avocado, jalapeño, tortilla

BD. Definitely something bright and pretty and light on its feet like Vouvray Sec. These lovely whites from the Loire typically show a slightly honeyed green apple and citrus which is great with pork and jalapeño. These dry style Chenin Blancs also have the acidity to help balance the richness of the avocado.

MD. Australian Grenache. This is a fantastic lunch type dish with lots of big flavours and some heat. Ripe fruit is needed here but you don’t want heavy tannin. The concentration and supple nature of quality Barossa or McLaren Vale Grenache is just begging for a match like this. So, roll up your sleeves, pour a tumbler of Grenache and revel in the messy faced grin that this combination will inspire.

BS. I think a supple, medium to full bodied red, with generous fruit and soft tannins is needed here for the pork and garlic.  A Chilean Carmenere would be my first choice, followed by a new world Merlot (like California), as long as it’s not too heavy on the wood.  A juicy Argentine Malbec would go do down nicely too.  I would be looking for full flavour here and good acidity levels, but would avoid excessive tannic grip! If there is a lot of heat in the dish I would watch for high alcohol in the wine as it can amplify that heat.

Written By:

Treve Ring is a wine writer, editor, judge, consultant and certified sommelier, and has been with EAT Magazine for over a decade.\r\n\r\nIn addition to her work with EAT, she is a Wine Critic and National Judge for ...

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