Which Drink Pairings for a Mexican Buffet?

2016-03-25 18.03.382016-03-25 18.17.572016-03-25 18.22.49We enjoyed a family holiday on the Riviera Maya in February and decided to get together with our family and some friends who had also been to the same resort to enjoy a photo evening. We thought a Mexican buffet would be a good idea. Our son contributed his own delicious version of chicken enchiladas and one of our friends supplied a chilli con carne with dark chocolate in the sauce. Our daughter and son-in-law provided a spectacular nachos, rice, guacamole, pico de gallo and salad. We did Justine Patisson’s pulled pork tacos from the BBC Good Food website.

What to drink with such a variety of flavours? A couple of different Shirazes were on offer, including Blaxland Estate 2015, from Tesco. 2016-03-25 18.23.572016-03-25 19.15.19Those preferring white wine, enjoyed Louis Felipe Edwards Sauvignon Blanc, supplied by our son because it was one of the house whites from our Mexican hotel. There was also Guinness West Indies Porter available as an alternative to wine.

With such a variety of flavours it was impossible to find something that paired well with everything, especially with dishes like the pork tacos that contained marked sweetness. My preference was Shiraz, but the porter was also popular. Overall, a buffet with such diverse flavours is probably not the best occasion to bring out the fine wines.

Argentinian Malbec Good with Steak in Sour Cream Sauce

We tried Filetgulasch mit Saurer Sahne, a German recipe from Supercook.  Sirloin steak is coated with seasoning and flour and fried in butter and topped with a mixture of onions, red pepper and paprika.  A reduced sauce made from the steak cooking juices, red wine and sour cream is then poured over the steaks. We served the steaks with sauté potatoes, mushrooms and tomatoes.

We paired the steak in sour cream sauce with a bottle of Uco Valley Malbec 2014 from Aldi’s Exquisite Collection.

This full-bodied Argentinian red displayed violet notes on the nose, a vanilla sweetness on the palate and was very fruity with flavours of plums and blackberries.  The wine was a good match with the meal.

A Puglian Red is Good with Pasta alla Norma

We tried Pasta alla Norma from Jamie Oliver.  This famous Sicilian recipe includes a pasta sauce made from aubergines, olive oil, oregano, red chilli, garlic, frsh basil, white wine vinegar, chopped canned tomatoes and seasoning.  Ricotta is used in the authentic recipe, but we used Parmesan.  We served with spaghetti.  A very tasty meal.

Research online suggests the Sicilian grape variety Nero d’Avola is a good wine pairing.  We didn’t have a bottle but we did have Cosiero Nero, Nero di Troia 2013, an Italian red from the Sunday Times Wine Club.  This full-bodied wine is from Puglia and we found black fruits on the nose with a palate of black fruits, vanilla sweetness and a smooth, spicy finish.  A good match with the pasta.2015-10-27 17.41.21

An Italian Barbera is Very Good with Beef Lasagne

We were looking for a relatively simple beef lasagne recipe and found one on the All recipes website.

The meat sauce is made from onion, carrots, garlic, oregano, minced beef, tomato purée, Worcestershire sauce, bay leaf, red wine, tinned chopped tomatoes, milk, salt and pepper.  The cheese sauce is butter, flour, milk, nutmeg, grated Cheddar and Parmesan.2015-04-29 18.11.30

We served the lasagne with garlic bread.

We paired this Italian dish with an Italian wine, Barbera d’Asti Araldica 2011 from the Wine Society.

The wine was fruity and tart with flavours of cherries and plums.  It also had a savoury earthiness with a slightly tannic bite at the end.  A very good match with the meaty pasta.2015-04-29 18.14.12

A Chilean Carménère Good with a Tesco Moussaka

We have just returned from holiday at the Grand Palladium White Sand Resort in Riviera Maya, Mexico.  If you want to read our thoughts on the place, including the food, check out our Tripadvisor Review.  Most of the house wine included in the all-inclusive package was pretty average, especially the red,  although one or two of the a la carte restuarants were OK.

Anyway we were jet lagged and had a busy weekend, so we ate convenience food and take aways for a few days.

Tonight we had some Tesco Finest Lamb Moussaka, which we find reasonably tasty.  We last ate some on 4th Feb 2012 and paired it with an Aussie Shiraz.  This time we opened a bottle of Casa Porta Carménère 2009 from Costco that we had enjoyed previously on 21 December 2011 with a Beef and Pork Chilli.

We thought the wine was mellow with black cherries and plums and had a herby affinity.  An acceptable match and nice to drink decent everyday wine again without having to pay a premium for it.

A Chilean Carménère Good with a Tasty Beef and Pork Chilli

We found a recipe online called Pat’s Famous Beef and Pork Chilli from Foodnetwork.com.  We reduced the huge quantities of chilli powder and omitted the black beans because we didn’t have any.  We also substituted Foster’s Gold for the Budweiser in the recipe.  What a superb variation on Chilli Con Carne!  We accompanied it with a bottle of Porta Reserva Carménère 2009 a Chilean red from Costco.  The wine had red and black fruits, plums, cassis, spiciness and smooth tannins.  It was a good match with the Chilli.

Chilean Carménère Wine Box Good with Meat Pie

We’ve had a wine box on the go for casual quaffing.  It’s Andes Rivers Chilean Carménère 2010 from Costco.  This is a fairly lightish, easy-drinking red that is pleasant, but nothing to get too excited about.  We had some Tesco’s Steak and Mushroom Pie for a quick midweek meal and poured a couple of glasses of the Carménère.  Fruity and smooth with red berries.  We thought this was quite a good match.

A Spanish Red Beats a French Red with a Beef Stew

We had some friends round and Teresa did her favourite recipe – Bifteck Marchand de Vin.  This beef stew in red wine contains mushrooms, thyme, tomatoes and shallots.  Last time we ate this dish (see Wed 2nd Feb 2011) we had a bottle of Australian Cabernet/Merlot, which was a pleasant if not outstanding match.  This time we opened two bottles – La Tour de Marrenon 2010 Reserve and Marques de Carano Gran Reserva 2004, both from Tesco.  The first bottle was a Southern French red blend made from Grenache and Syrah with summer fruit flavours, which was pleasant enough, but it was juicy to the point of being a bit cloying. Easy drinking and OK with the stew, but something a little more complex would have been better. The second bottle was a Spanish red from Aragon and a blend of Garnacha and Tempranillo.  This was a richer, weightier wine with cherry and raspberry fruit and some spice. A far better match with the stew.

Spanish Red Plonk Proves the Best Match with a Tricky Soup

We had Escudilla de Cataluña (Catalan Soup) from Supercook, which contains vegetables beef stock and chorizo.  This was one of those meals that proved quite a challenge to find a decent wine match.  We opened a bottle of Torre Ercilla Rioja Reserva 2006, a gift from some friends.  From Sunday Times Wine Club, this is a smooth, oaky Spanish Red made from Tempranillo, with ripe red fruit.  However, the dish did nothing for it, so we set it aside.  We had a couple of unfinished opened bottles of wine, so firstly we tried some Rosemount Shiraz 2009 from Costco, but this too did not work.  We then switched to white and tried some Namaqua Diamond Coast Chardonnay 2010  from Tesco.  A better match, but still not particularly good, so we resorted to some wine box plonk from Costco – Geni Tempranillo.  This, lighter, fruity, easy-drinking Spanish red actually worked quite well with the soup.

Chilean Carménère and Indian Food Work So Well

We enjoyed a Moghlai Lamb recipe from Madhur Jaffrey and fancied a red.  Some wine and food buffs highly recommend a Chilean Carménère with Indian food and we have tried this pairing previously.  We have rarely been disappointed.  Apparently a key to its success is the inherently herbal nature of the grape. We opened a bottle of Don Cayetano Carménère 2009 from Sunday Times Wine Club and were pleased with the pairing.  As well as the herbiness, this fruity wine had a spiciness which went well with the dish.