Tuesday, October 07, 2008

A Little Taste of Baja in a Bottle

With May approaching, we don our sombreros as we head south of the border for the celebration of Cinco de Mayo. While margaritas and beer are the typical beverages of choice, wine also offers an interesting pairing with Mexican cuisine.

As winter continued to linger, my wife and I recently fled to Mexico for a warm change of pace. Besides better weather, Mexico offers world-class culture and cuisine. Mexico has significant history behind its wine industry, as it has the oldest wineries in the new world. The Spaniards established grape growing and wineries in the sixteenth century, as they colonized this part of the new world. The majority of grapes were used for brandy production and food, with a small amount used to make table wine.

Two important wine regions today are Aquascalientes on the northeastern gulf side and the Baja Peninsula on the northwest side of Mexico. Both have ideal, Mediterranean-style climates for grape growing. The days are hot and the ocean breeze cools the grape crops at night, allowing the sugars to develop while preserving the grape’s acidity levels.

While dining, we tried Mexican and South American wines with our meals. Some of our favorite Mexican wines included Chateau Camou’s Vino Blanco, Monte Xanic’s Chenin Colombard and L.A. Cetto’s Chardonnay. These wines are all produced on the Baja Peninsula, along the Pacific coast. Delighted with these new wine discoveries, we looked in our favorite wine stores when we returned. Unfortunately, Mexican wine production is low, and these brands are not yet established in the Midwest. However, you may run across these wines when you visit the American Southwest, southern California or Mexico.


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