We 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. Those 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.
Having just returned from holiday in Mexico, we fancied cooking a favourite from Supercook – Costillas a la Mexicana, which is Mexican pork chops.
Garlic is rubbed over the chops and they are refrigerated while the Salsa Mexicana is made. Chillies, tomatoes, onion and garlic are chopped and blended and salt added. The chops are pan-fried and the sauce is poured over at the end. We served with tortillas.
We tried a bottle of the excellent Ravenswood Zinfandel, but we quickly decided this didn’t work and switched to an Italian white – The Society’s Pinot Grigio 2014, from the Wine Society.
We detected a slight pineapple sweetness with flavours of tropical fruits and nectarines. A good wine and a good match with the pork.
For a midweek meal we had Old El Paso’s Taco kit. Taco shells are loaded with minced beef cooked with a spice mix containing seasoning, paprika and cumin. The tacos are topped with salsa, tomatoes, grated Cheddar, sour cream, guacamole and crisp lettuce.
With so many flavours, finding a good wine pairing is a challenge. Research online suggested a variety of options including Tempranillo, Shiraz and South American reds.
We decided on a bottle of Corte Ignacio Concha y Toro Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, a full-bodied Chilean red from the Wine Society. A couple of mouthfuls indicated this was not a good match, so we set the wine aside.
We turned to a bottle of La Moneda Merlot Reserva 2014, another full-bodied Chilean red, this time from Asda.
We detected red fruits on the nose, dark plum flavours and a spicy finish. Whilst the wine was a good match with the tacos, we will try to improve on the pairing next time.
We were due to finish off the Mexican Chicken from the previous evening (see 17th March) and we didn’t have a suitable wine, apart from some decent off-dry Australian Rieslings, that we did not want to risk with this dish. We found a bottle of Blossom Hill Vineyard Collection in a 2 for £10 offer in Waitrose that looked like it might be OK. This is a non-vintage white blend from California described on the bottle as “Aromatic and Delicate” and categorised by Waitrose as medium dry.
We tasted tropical fruits with a vanilla sweetness and found the wine very pleasant and easy-drinking. The same comments made yesterday on the matching challenges with the meal applied to this pairing. Overall though it was an acceptable match, but not quite as good as the Riesling tried previously.
We fancied something a little different and spotted a Supercook recipe called Mexican Chicken with Fruits. This exotic chicken dish is baked in the oven in a sauce containing chicken stock, cinnamon, ginger, chilli powder and tomato puree. It is also covered with layers of bananas, oranges and pineapple, with brown sugar sprinkled on top. The meal was served with boiled rice.
Dry wines were definitely out. We opened a bottle of Cono Sur Riesling Reserva 2010 from Tesco. This is a medium dry Chilean white and we tasted citrus fruits, particularly lemon with a nice tangy acidity that went well with the spices. The wine went reasonably well with the chicken and the overall flavour of the sauce but did not have a particular affinity with the fruits themselves, where their sweetness detracted from the pairing.
Not an easy dish to pair a wine with.
Tonight we had Chilli con Carne, a midweek favourite that we hadn’t had for a long time. We have done this excellent recipe from the BBC Food website before, but Teresa tends to spice it up a bit, as is her wont. We opened a bottle of Finca el Cuento Syrah 2008 from Sunday Times Wine Club, a Spanish red we have tried on two previous occasions. The first time we had it with Spaghetti Bolognese (see 1st June 2011) and subsequently with a spicy North Indian dish (see 26th August 2011). This medium-bodied wine went well with both those meals, but the spiciness in the wine was even better with the Chilli con Carne. The food also really brought out the cherry and black fruit flavours in the wine.