Pedro Poncelis Jr and his father are two of the most influential sommeliers in Mexico, and now they are both winemakers with their own boutique winery in Guadalupe Valley in Baja California. With his own wine school and education program, Pedro Poncelis is an expert on Mexican wine. Amanda Barnes has a sunset conversation with him about the history of Mexican wine, the modern wine industry and his all time favourite food and wine pairings for Mexican cuisine.
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Amanda: Can you give me, as a good sommelier should, a nice food and wine pairing? Something classic Baja California, Guadalupe pairing?
Pedro: It’s very interesting that question because if you focus on French wine: French wine with French cuisine, it’s amazing. Italian wine with Italian cuisine it’s amazing. Spanish wine, with Spanish cuisine, it’s amazing. And when we are talking about Mexican wine, that almost all people think of something spiciness and hot peppers, and that, well – it’s not true all the time. Mexico in the country, depending on the region, has a lot of different cuisines. If we are talking about Baja cuisine here, our food is very natural, almost all the food you have in restaurants comes from the farms inside. And the animals are growing in the surroundings of the properties, and the flavours are totally natural. Here in Baja, we do not use a lot of spiciness and we don’t use a lot of Chilli. So Baja food, that is so natural with these flavours that are amazing, because everything is fresh, well – the wines are just amazing! You can have beef, lamb, quail, you can have vegetables, and alot of things. And obviously also, well we have two different kinds of fish, you have the cold fish. From the Pacific? Like tuna, like jurel, coming from the cold water of the Pacific, and you have the hot water in the sea of Cortez, where you will find very good merluza, or tortuabas, or you will find shrimps. And well, we have all that, all this, in a 200km area. So, it is fantastic. And the Mexican wine for this kind of food is just unbelievable. But also, the traditional Mexican food. In my case, with my wine, Syrah-Grenache-Temprenillo, one of my favourite pairings is with a traditional mole. A chicken breast with mole. The only condition is that I usually ask to the chef, don’t make it so spicy mole. Put some spiciness, some chilli but not so hot. And if the chilli is just present to give flavour, the pairing with Mexican wines is just amazing. I will say, Chiles en nogada, moles, I will say adobos, pepianes, cochinitos, all those traditional dishes, believe me – goes perfectly! And also, what is the most famous and popular Mexican food? Tacos! It’s amazing. You can do a pairing with tacos. You can have a beef taco, but you can also have cuchinitos cooked which is with some adobo and spiciness, and you will need two different wines. With the asado taco you need a red wine, but with cochinitas pebel you can have a rose grenache and it will be a fantastic pairing. And here in Ensenada we have the famous fish tacos! That is fish with some cabbage and that with a Chardonnay is fantastic. So, Mexican wine goes very good with Mexican food. Absolutely. The traditional and the more modern food like Baja food.
You have just added about 100 things to my list, of what I need to eat this week.
Here, also we are in Baja specialist in all the oysters, mussels, and for example some oysters with a good white wine, could be a good Sauvignon Blanc, or something like that with oysters is spectacular.
Ok. We have got to go because I am going to go eat!