Cinco de Mayo is not normally a holiday I associate with wine, especially because my only point of reference is ridiculous college and work parties where Corona and Tecate — and handles of cheap tequila — are the norm. But now that I am a “professional,” my idea of a good time is not tasting my tacos twice. This means tequila is out. Although I just moved to Brooklyn, this nacional holiday is celebrated the same here as it is in my native California, with parties featuring carne asada, pollo asado, salsa, guacamole, beans, tortillas, onions, cilantro, lime juice and spice, spice, spice. Washing down those flavors with a big, red wine like an Australian Shiraz would be like washing down Sriracha with Tabasco. So, I would go for a white wine, preferably a clean, crisp one. But you’re probably broke as hell.
But because you’re reading Brokelyn, you likely don’t have the resources to go into a wine shop and rely on their best pick for your cinco de drinko pairing. That’s why our budget wine swap is here: I’ll recommend two white wines, one at a splurge price point and the other at a budget price point. Don’t worry: at no point will I ever recommend a terrible wine, even if it is $3 at Trader Joe’s.The expensive one:
2008 de Ladoucette Pouilly-Fumé Sauvignon Blanc, $41.99
What’s good for the goose isn’t always good for the gander. Take the story of “Fumé Blanc.” Back in the 1960s, Sauvignon Blanc was given short shrift in the United States. In order to overcome consumers’ perception that Sauv Blanc was terrible, cheap stuff, Robert Mondavi decided to come up with a name that sounded French and, therefore, sophisticated. His 1968 vintage of Sauvignon Blanc carried the name Fumé Blanc and has been part of the standard (and thoroughly American) nomenclature ever since. This renaming was hugely successful for California; however, Pouilly-Fumé, the appellation in the Loire Valley whose name Mondavi borrowed, suffered from this association. Many started to think of Pouilly-Fumé as on par with the janky early Californian stuff. Don’t let that happen to you! This example, the de Ladoucette is full of citrus, minerality, and good acidity. It is an elegant wine and has just enough acid to cut through tacos topped with pork and queso blanco.
Available at Heights Chateau, 123 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn.
Swap for this cheaper one:
2010 Domaine de la Pinardière Muscadet Sère et Maine, $12.00
Speaking of getting bad raps, Muscadet also gets a bad rap but for no reason: it’s delicious, it’s cheap, and it pairs well with quite a lot. This French white wine, made from the Melon de Bourgogne grape, is juicy, citrusy, but surprisingly full and rich. It’s very similar to Sauvignon Blanc. Use it to power through guacamole or, if your hosts are awesome, ceviche. Available at Smith & Vine, 268 Smith Street, Brooklyn.