A salt-rimmed Margarita and a cold, lime-adorned Corona are the typical drinks of choice to pair with a delicious plate of tacos. And while Mexican beers and cocktails make for a great meal with tacos, wine can certainly sub in to accompany these handhelds any time.
We asked wine professionals to weigh in on their favorite taco and wine pairings. From battered fish tacos with Riesling to carne asada with Spanish Garnacha, here are the flavorful tacos these pros enjoy and the wine styles that make them even better.
The Best Wine and Taco Pairings, According to Wine Pros:
- Spicy fried halibut tacos with Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc
- Carnitas tacos with sparkling rosé
- Grilled fish tacos with Albariño
- Fried fish tacos with Gañeta Txakolina
- Adobo pulled pork tacos with rosé
- Baja fish tacos with Australian Riesling
- Carne asada tacos with Spanish Garnacha or Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel
- Lengua (beef tongue) tacos with German Riesling
- Pork carnitas tacos with rosé Champagne
- Beef barbacoa tacos with Gewürztraminer or Saperavi
- Cochinita Pibil tacos with Viognier-Fiano blend
“I love pairing a vibrant, high-elevation Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc with spicy fried halibut tacos. Its acidity, minerality, and citrus notes are the perfect complement to the spice and delicate nature of the fish. The wine’s crisp acidity will easily cut through the richness of the fried fish and toppings of avocado mousse and Cotija cheese.” —Chef Josh Mitchell, culinary director, Theorem Vineyards, Diamond Mountain, Napa Valley, Calif.
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“In any event, depending on the type of taco and heat level of any salsa involved, here is a suggestion I would offer: Let’s consider a traditional carnitas taco with fresh salsa or perhaps a pickled onion garnish. I would love to enjoy this taco with sparkling wine that has a touch of residual sugar. Patrick Bottex Bugey-Cerdon ‘La Cueille’ is a lighter rosé-colored sparkling wine from the Savoie region in France that offers vibrant aromas of wild strawberries and alpine herbs. This traditional blend of 80 percent Gamay and 20 percent Poulsard may not seem like the first wine to pair with a taco, but the vibrant fruit character combined with low tannin and effervescence provides the ideal structure and flavors to highlight and complement a delicious taco.” —Brett Zimmerman, master sommelier and owner, Boulder Wine Merchant, Boulder, Colo.
“Fish tacos are easily paired with light-bodied, acidic, white wines. Albariño, with its textbook profile of citrus, minerals, and crisp, refreshing acidity, fits the bill perfectly. This makes the 2021 Zárate Albariño from Rias Baixas an excellent pairing with grilled fish tacos. For fried fish tacos, try the 2021 Gañeta Txakolina from the Basque region of Spain. Its spry effervescence will add a welcome pop to the pairing. However, my personal favorite taco-wine pairing is slow-cooked, adobo pulled pork tacos paired with a rosé such as the Tablas Creek Patelin de Tablas Rosé. This annual Rhône blend is flush with light red fruits and racy acidity but also complemented by relatively low alcohol, which is important to watch when pairing wine with spicy food. Pairing a high-alcohol wine with a spicy dish can be like throwing gasoline on a fire.” —Stephen Michael Sherry, lead sommelier, Melanie Wine Bar, Los Angeles
“Baja fish tacos (battered) would pair well with a bright, fresh and focused white with great acidity like an Australian Riesling. I would recommend the 2021 Pewsey Vale Eden Valley Single Vineyard Estate Dry Riesling ($16.99 retail). It’s a constant favorite with its notes of lime juice, wet stone, and white flowers. Would also pair well with al pastor tacos. Just nothing too spicy. Tacos are accented with various condiments and toppings of the diner’s choosing, often, so pairing suggestions could change just based on what the diner chooses to put on them. Carne asada tacos would pair well with a Spanish Garnacha from Campo de Borja, Calatayud, or Carinena. Or they would also pair will with a Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel from California. Lengua (beef tongue) tacos would pair well with a more fruit-forward and acidic white such as a kabinett harvest Riesling from Germany. When the food gets spicier I would recommend a fruitier/sweeter wine, or even a sparkling wine. Sometimes, honestly, the best pairing is a beer.” —Jason Kugel; wine, beer, & spirits team leader; Plum Market Bloomfield; Bloomfield Township, Mich.
“I think my favorite taco and wine pairing would be the pork carnitas tacos with rosé Champagne! I love this pairing because pork carnitas has a huge combination of flavors, rich texture, and salty taste that’s incredibly delicious for your palate. Champagne rosé is the perfect contrast to carnitas, as rosé Champagne is bright, crisp, and clean and always has a heavy concentration of fresh red fruits such as strawberries, cherries, and peaches. For that reason, Champagne helps us to cleanse our palate, increasing our flavor perception and finishing with a beautiful toasty aftertaste.” —Jhonatan Adame Mejia, wine director, Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos Pedregal, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
“Personally, I always love Chilean Carménère with tacos. The subtle bell pepper note plays nicely with grilled vegetables and salsas, and there’s plenty of dark fruit to hold up to rich meats, like carnitas.” —Michael Warner, co-founder and chief operating officer, DCanter Wine Boutique, Washington, D.C.
“Beef barbacoa tacos are what I love to eat. Depending on the day, I like Gewürztraminer from Weis Vineyard or Saperavi Reserve from McGregor Vineyard.” —Orlando Rodriguez, chef and owner, GRAFT Wine and Cider Bar, Watkins Glen, N.Y.
“When it comes to Mexican food, I love to suggest a light skin-contact wine like COS Rami, a Sicilian wine made with Grecanico and Inzolia. This wine goes especially well with shrimp or fish tacos as the wine has a nice salty finish. Another great option would be a chilled light and bright sake, like the Hoyo Genji Shining Prince. Sake always brings an incredible balance with spicy salsas. I would specifically pair this with tacos al pastor.” —Geneviève Rioux, wine director, Las Ventanas al Paraiso, San José del Cabo, Mexico
“My favorite taco pairing is a cochinita pibil taco (or panucho) with a crisp and bright white wine. In particular, I love our Casa Magoni Viognier-Fiano blend. The slight stone fruit notes and good acidity pair well with the rich achiote seasoning and rich pork of the cochinita. Additionally, the acid helps cut any burn associated with delicious spicy salsas.” —Morgan Anderson, co-owner, Cantina Los Mayas, San Francisco