When the weather heats up, Mexican cuisine always seems like a great (and festive) way to get together with friends. If you are interested in something a little more exciting than another night of lime-infused cerveza and margaritas (not that there is anything wrong with that ...), stretch the wrinkles out of your brain and take a tip from our friends at the Food Network -- a snappy Sauvignon Blanc will give just the right balance whether you like your guacamole mild or spicy:
Mexican meals can make a wine pairing difficult. Those wicked chiles knock out the flavor of any wine or strong beer. So you need to choose a good wine and tailor the menu. The tailoring's easy: Conspire with your waiter, unless you're afraid of being thought a wimp; find out what's low-key on the menu, in a hot-chile sense, and order it. Then go for the New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.
This remarkable wine -- stuffed with green, herbal flavors, a green-apple/grapefruit/passion-fruit fruitiness, and wrapped in a zippily acidic frame -- started to draw world attention in the 1980s. Before long, wine gurus around the planet were calling New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc -- particularly the ones from the Marlborough region, at the north end of New Zealand's South Island -- the best Sauvignon Blancs being made in the world today.
But a little trouble in paradise developed, from my point of view. One of the most successful labels was Cloudy Bay, which received enormous attention and praise. The makers allowed their fruit to get a little riper, and their wine to come to the market sweeter rather than bone-dry. Seeing their success, other Marlborough wineries started to follow suit.
Ten years ago you could pick up just about any Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc for your enchilada feast, but today you have to be more selective. The wines, on average, are higher in alcohol and sweeter, with less of that tingling acid zap that enables them to buzz-saw through rich Mexican food.
So, let's say you want wine rather than margaritas with your chips, guacamole and salsa. That's when it’s time to go even more south of the border and pick up a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.
2001 Dashwood Sauvignon Blanc
2000 Vavasour Sauvignon Blanc
2001 Framingham Sauvignon Blanc
Mount Riley Sauvignon Blanc, the 2001
The Crossings Sauvignon Blanc
2001 Jackson Estate Sauvignon Blanc