Spicy Beef Barbacoa pairs best with medium-bodied red wines with high acidity, such as Beaujolais Cru, Cabernet Franc, Côte Rôtie and Zinfandel. If your Beef Barbacoa isn’t spicy hot, the usual suspects of Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and Shiraz will make excellent choices. Wines high in tannin or alcohol do not make great picks with spicy hot foods, as tannin and alcohol cause the spice in the food to burn hot!
Beef Barbacoa is a Mexican dish consisting of slow-cooked Beef that has been marinated with chipotle peppers, garlic, and other spices. The smoky-flavoured meat can then be eaten on its own or used in other dishes, such as tacos or burritos. Barbacoa does have different meanings in different regions of Mexico, however, for this blog, I’m sticking with Beef that has a little heat (unless specified differently)
Moulin-a-Vent (nicknamed ‘the king of Beaujolais Cru’) is a more powerful Beaujolais Cru that can stand up to a spicy and hearty Beef Barbacoa. High in acidity and medium(ish) in tannin, Moulin-à-Vent can hold its own against the bold and spicy flavours of Barbacoa without adding more fire to the spice. Fruity with raspberry, boysenberry, blackberry and plum, Moulin-à-Vent shines with refreshing flavours. As you continue to age Moulin-a-Vent for several years, expect earthier mushroom and meaty flavours to complement the beefiness of your Beef Barbacoa.
Morgon is another style of Beaujolais that will get along great with some spicier beef barbacoa. If your bottle says Beaujolais Villages or lists another type of Beaujolais Cru, like Fleurie or Chiroubles, put it back down as it will not stand up to the heartier flavours.
Chinon and Beef Barbacoa Pairing
Chinon is a Cabernet Franc from the Loire Valley region of France. Smooth with flavours of black cherry, raspberry and strawberry, a Chinon will provide plenty of refreshment against the beefier flavours of Beef Barbacoa.
Chinon is also loved for its flavours of smoke, meat, green bell pepper, black pepper, spices and herbs, all of which complement the spicy Beef Barbacoa flavours. The green flavours of Chinon are also great with any cilantro or lime juice accompanying your Beef Barbacoa.
Chinon is high in acidity, so it will only pair with Beef Barbacoa, that is more mild in terms of spice. I highly recommend decanting Chinon if it’s young to allow its tannin to soften.
Zinfandel and Beef Barbacoa Pairing
A medium-bodied Zinfandel is excellent with Beef Barbacoa as, when not oaked, Zinfandel is not super high in tannin. Look for a bottle in the under $30 range. Bottles of Zinfandel that are $50 are most likely oaked, high in alcohol and full of tannin, which will taste like burn as it clashes with the spice in the Beef Barbacoa.
Known for its juicy flavours of black berry, black cherry, plum and strawberry, Zinfandel provides a delicious contrast to the garlic, spice and beef flavours of Beef Barbacoa. On the other hand, Zinfandel is smoky and rich with flavours of black pepper, herbs and chocolate, which complement the slow-cooked flavours of Beef Barbacoa.
Shiraz and not so spicy Beef Barbacoa Pairing
Australian Shiraz is fruity with notes of blackberries, raspberries and plums. You’ll also find flavours of spice, smoke, black pepper, dark chocolate, and meat, which go well with the marinated beef flavours.
Full-bodied Shiraz can stand up to the hearty flavours of Beef Barbacoa, however, it is also going to be very high in alcohol. Thus, you want your Shiraz to be either medium-bodied, or you want your Beef Barbacoa to not be so spicy, otherwise, this pairing is going to taste like a tire fire in your mouth.
As Beef Barbacoa can be made in various ways, your mileage may vary depending on what ingredients are in your Beef Barbacoa (black pepper = good, ghost peppers = bad) when pairing up a bold Shiraz.