If every time you look at the scar on your knee, you’re reminded of that night you spent with Tequila, consider pouring some wine on Cinco de Mayo instead.
It’s grown internationally but South Africa plants the most Chenin Blanc, or Steen as the locals call it, in the world.
The wine is like a chameleon because it can be produced in a wide range of styles, from bone dry to pretty sweet, much like a Riesling.
And when you smell a Chenin blanc, depending on how and where it was produced, you get a range of scents – from spicy to citrusy to even tropical.
Even better, you age Chenin Blanc…not often you can say that about a white wine.
But because its so versatile, it pairs really well with food, especially Mexican!
“Its high acidity will balance out the fat of the meats in many dishes like fajitas, and will clean the palate for the other sides that are high in acid, like salsa,” says Jim Clarke, marketing manager for the Wines of South Africa USA.
And if you pick a bottle that leans toward those zesty tropical fruits, it’ll totally complement the lime and fruit flavors found in many of your favorite Mexican dishes.
But with all the spice in Mexican food, be aware of your alcohol content. If you pick a wine that’s higher in alcohol – like a big cabernet or a syrah – the alcohol may overpower the food. Or worse, the alcohol could amp up the spice and set your mouth on fire…sort of.
“South Africa's Chenin Blancs, in particular, have slight amounts of sugar in them, which is the perfect foil for hot sauces and spicy foods,” says Clarke.
So try a Chenin Blanc with your sombrero and let us know. At least you wont have to worry about accidentally drinking that worm again.
M.A.N. Family Wines Chenin Blanc 2013 ($10) Paarl, South Africa
Ken Forrester Old Vine Reserve Chenin Blanc 2014 ($15) Stellenbosch, South Africa
Domaine Vincent Careme Spring Vouvray Touraine 2014 ($18) Loire, France