Pairing Wine With Tamales

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If you’ve never had a tamale, you are missing out. Made from masa—a mixture of corn dough—and filled with slow-cooked meat, vegetables, or cheese. You can also find sweet varieties filled with fruit, raisins, or chocolate. These tasty filled pockets are then wrapped in a corn husk or banana leaf and steamed until the masa becomes soft, but firm. The tamale is then unwrapped and can be eaten on the go. 

Tamales are a delicious, comforting treat and the variety of fillings and flavors make wine pairing a fun adventure. 

Best Red Wine To Pair With Tamales

The reds listed below are good, all-around suggestions, but as with most wine pairings, you want to take the filling into consideration. If your tamale is spicy, stay away from anything with a high number of tannins and alcohol as these will clash with the spice. 

  • Cabernet Franc; medium body with tart fruit flavors, similar to Pinot Noir.
  • Pinot Noir; always a popular choice; light, sweet red, high on aromatics.
  • Tempranillo; medium-bodied with high tannins, similar to Merlot.
  • Lambrusco; a slight bubbliness with strong berry notes.

Best White Wine To Pair With Tamales

If you prefer white wine, there are some great options that will pair well with almost any tamale. Fruity, acidic whites balance the savory, slightly sweet masa and the rich fat (typically lard) used to make it. 

  • Off-Dry Riesling; Lightly sweet, crisp and refreshingly acidic.
  • Champagne; Bubbly, floral and fruity with notes of citrus, peach or cherry.
  • Albariño; Dry with high acidity and notes of lemon and grapefruit.
  • Rosé; bright acidity with strong berry flavor. 

Pairing Wine With Various Tamales

Wine With Pork Tamales

For this classic tamale, we recommend a California Chardonnay, but it could also hold up to a Cabernet Sauvignon, if you’re more inclined to reds.

Wine With Chicken Tamales

With chicken, you’ll want something a bit lighter. Try a Pinot Grigio or Pinot Blanc.

Wine With Tamales Verdes

These tamales are typically pork or chicken, but the name comes from the green salsa; a blend of tomatillo, green chilies and herbs. You’ll want a wine that will complement the herbaceous quality of the salsa, like a grassy Sauvignon Blanc.

Wine With Tamales de Frijol

Pureed beans and cheese make up these tamales. A crisp, fruity white will bring some much-needed brightness to this heavy meal. Try a Gewürztraminer or Grüner Veltliner.

Wine With Tamales de Rajas

These tamales consist of cheese and poblano peppers, and you guessed it, they’re spicy! You’re best avoiding red wine and going with a citrusy, acidic white like Sauvignon Blanc or Albariño.

Wine With Tamales Dulces

These sweet tamales generally have raisins, but you may find them with fruit or chocolate, too. For chocolate, choose a red like Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot. With fruit filling, try a Riesling or Chardonnay.

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