Mole is a traditional Mexican sauce, usually served on top of a piece of meat, or alongside some rice. “Mole” is an ancient word for mix, and the sauce is usually made from almost everything in the cupboard, including herbs, seeds, tomatoes, chocolate, and several types of chili pepper. The result is a rich, spicy and smokey sauce, which can be enhanced wonderfully with the right wine. Naturally, you’ll want a win with big, bold flavors to match it.
Wine Characteristics To Pair With Mole
|Dry to Off-dry
|Moderate to Acidic
|Medium to Full
|Intense fruity flavors, notes of herbs, chocolate and sweet spice.
The flavors in mole can be as complex as the flavors in a great wine. Mole can come in a few different colors, but generally, it’s going to be spicy, herby and rich. Keep an eye out for a wine with a healthy amount of acidity, to ensure it can stand up to the dish, and relatively low tannins so that it doesn’t clash with the spiciness of the mole. A good general rule is to try and match the fruit profile of the chili pepper to the profile of the wine.
Best Red Wine To Drink With Mole
Red wine is a superb accompaniment for dark moles. Their flavor profiles can be remarkably similar. Light, medium or full-bodied reds are all fine, so long as they aren’t overly tannic.
Full of rich, dark fruits, cocoa and smoke, Zinfandel is a beautiful pairing for mole. Its soft tannins are another plus, avoiding any hints of bitterness on the palate. The only obstacle when pairing Zinfandel with a spicy mole is the alcohol content. Zinfandel is typically quite high in alcohol, which can increase the spicy sensation that you get from capsicum in chilli peppers. This can be remedied by finding a relatively light, low-alcohol Zinfandel, such as those from Paso Robles in California.
With Cabernet Sauvignon, New World iterations are also the way to go. Look for a round, chocolatey Cabernet Sauvignon from California or the Walla Walla region of Washington state. In spite of the slightly higher tannin levels, the fruit-forward, spicy profile of a Cabernet Sauvignon matches mole wonderfully.
Tempranillo is a safe red wine choice for Mexican food. It can be marvelously smokey, with subtle sweet spices, earthy flavors and herbaceousness. Tempranillo also leans towards a medium body, so the combination won’t be overwhelmingly rich. If you can find one, consider a Tempranillo from the Ribeiro del Duero region of Spain.
Best White Wine To Drink With Mole
Not all moles are dark, and if you’re dining on a dish with mole verde or amarillo, white wines are the safer choice. Mexican food is often served with beer or margaritas. Lime-tinged white wines can have a similar effect, but with the potential to synchronize on a deeper level. Brighter chili flavors should be matched with crisp, bright wines, particularly those whites with underlying herbal notes.
The stalwart recommendation for spicy foods, dry or off-dry Riesling is a brilliant choice for pairing with mole. Highly acidic and fruit-forward, it will work particularly well with lighter moles, as the classic dark mole poblano may overpower a lighter-bodied wine. Its inherent sweetness and low alcohol levels are an added bonus, working together to tame the mole’s spiciness.
Mole can contain a lot of herbs, such as cilantro, parsley and even aniseed. This makes Gruner Veltliner a solid pairing option, with its subtle herbal notes and hints of spicy white pepper. Like Riesling, Veltliner is also made in dry and off-dry styles, so you have some options. Cheap, lighter-bodied versions usually contain notes of lime and high acidity, perfect for cleansing the palate and keeping the taste of mole fresh. Thicker, off-dry styles are ideal for combatting mole’s spiciness.
For the most herbal moles, such as mole verde, Sauvignon Blanc is an excellent choice. Generally speaking, lighter moles will have less complex flavors, so the wine will be allowed to truly sing. Sauvignon Blanc will bring a refreshing zip to the meal, similar to the effect of a beer with lime or a margarita, and its underlying herbaceous notes will mesh with green mole perfectly.
Pairing Wine With Mole Prepared Different Ways
Wine With Mole Amarillo
This is one of the lighter versions of mole, and is often served with lighter proteins, such as fish. It screams out for white wine, particularly fruity examples such as Riesling, or even a Chenin Blanc.
Wine With Mole Rojo
Mole Rojo shows generous amounts of spice, with brighter chili flavors than its classic counterpart, mole poblano. Zinfandel’s intense fruitiness would match perfectly, as would a Cabernet Sauvignon, or a ripe Australian Shiraz.
Wine With Mole Poblano
This is the classic iteration of mole, complex, dark and often served with heavier pieces of meat. Zinfandel or Primitivo is the ideal choice here, so long as the alcohol percentage is relatively low. With its lower tannins and intense fruitiness, Zinfandel is the key to a delicious Mexican dining experience.
Wine With Mole Verde
Green mole is one of the lightest and most herbaceous iterations of mole you can find. It will match particularly well with fruity, herbaceous wines, such as a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc or a Gruner Veltliner.
Best Wine To Drink With Mole
While Mexican food is often paired with beer or citrus-loaded cocktails, mole has an amazing depth of flavor that can match a variety of wines. Fruity, high-acid wines line the path to success, but it all comes down to personal preference. Take your pick from our list of recommendations:
- Sauvignon Blanc
- Cabernet Sauvignon
- Gruner Veltliner