Beer Versus Wine – The Perfect Enchilada Pairing

Congratulations to last month’s Beer Versus Wine Challenge winner –Bryan from This is Why I’m Drunk!  Part of the honor includes coming up with the next month’s challenge.  Below is Bryan’s post and challenge food.  Participants have until next Tuesday, June 10 to turn in their suggestion before we take it to a vote.  Winner gets to present July’s challenge.  For more on the rules, click here.

For the longest time as a child, my only exposure to foods originating from south of the American border came in paper wrappers and was usually delivered within minutes of ordering on a plastic tray. For all I knew, Taco Bell offered me everything I needed to understand.

But eventually, I found Puerto Rican rice and beans. And Peruvian ceviche. And my favorite: homemade, Mexican enchiladas.

Enchiladas with Red Sauce

Enchiladas with Red Sauce (Photos Courtesy of

In essence, the enchiladas I enjoy are more utilitarian than gourmet dish. While they can be artfully crafted, a slap-dash approach to mixing corn and black beans with green onion and cilantro can end up equally tasty. A mix of Mexican cheese binds them all together. Rolled up into a flour tortilla, a red sauce washes over the blanketed ingredients and solidifies in the oven.

All the pieces are easily obtained. All the flavors are direct. But working my way through each bite offers a simple pleasure. To me, a sprinkle of cumin and garlic powder provide a touch of flair.

It’s a quick and dirty dish for nights when my wife and I are too tired for the effort to mix or mash or pour something more intricate, but it’s ambitious enough to avoid frozen foods purchased from the freezers of grocery stores and sitting cold and preserved at home. Those enchiladas can be a simple food with satisfying results.

I can’t recall the last time I ate Taco Bell, although I’ll never forget the ritualistic purpose of that food for my father and I. There was a restaurant in a shopping plaza not far from our house where we’d stop before going to a movie in an adjacent theater.

Homemade Enchiladas - So simple, yet so Delicious

Homemade Enchiladas – So simple, yet so Delicious (Photos Courtesy of

At the drive thru, we’d order a pile of soft shell tacos, all wrapped up in their logoed paper. I’d open up the take out bag and widen my nostrils, inhaling an aroma of meat and cheese. It was a smell that would line our coat pockets as we snuck the tacos into the theater, pretending that no one else could sense them.

Being young, sitting in a darkened theater and chowing down on what I assumed was freshly made Mexican food was, at times, an elegant experience. But the thought now twists my stomach ever so slightly.

Make it Pop with Cilantro

Make it Pop with Cilantro (Photos Courtesy of

That’s because I know the savoriness of those rice and beans, the addictive tartness of ceviche and an almost herbal sweetness of our enchiladas. It’s a flavor combination that my taste buds never tire of and only know it’s time to stop when my stomach tells them, ready for splash of something equally delicious from my wine or beer glass.

The food has been presented! Now, what’s your perfect beer or wine pairing for enchiladas with red sauce?

Author: Bryan

Beer, Food, and Travel Writer

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  1. I’m still finding my pairing legs, but I would love to try a nice India Pale Lager beside the Enchiladas. The hoppy character will play well with the cumin and cilantro as well as the Mexican cheese, while the clean lager character will help to brighten the palate and keep the meal from weighing down your tongue. For specifics, I would consider Smuttynose Brewing Company’s new Big Beer series beer, Frankenlager. At 6.1% ABV it carries a nice grain bill, while its showcased hop is the German Saphir, which is not quite as overpowering as some of the new American hops. With a softer, yet still succulent and citrusy hop character, as well as a mellowing malt underbelly, Frankenlager will be able to spice up the dish’s cilantro and cumin, while providing some malt to play with the rich red sauce and the softly bready tortilla, as well as smooth out the back of the palate with a clean, bright body. All that said, I recently became badly lactose intolerant so I can no longer eat enchiladas (unless I use vegan cheese which is just not as fun… t’is a sad day for me) so I have no way of trying out my response for sure. Cheers.

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    • You need to give yourself more credit. You definitely have a set of pairing legs! What a great justification of how each element of the beer highlights a nuance of the wine. Thanks for playing!

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  2. I would go with beer, probably either amber ale or a porter. I think Enchilada is quite challenging for the wine

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      • My experience with enchilada is a lot of flavors, not necessarily coherent. In such a case, it is hard to find the wine which will complement or contrast the dish.

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  3. When it comes to enchiladas, I would probably open a Rhone or Spanish mix – GSM (Grenache/Grenacha, Syrah, Mouvedre/Monstrall). For me it is a good pair against he heat and weight of the sauce smothering the tortillas.

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  4. Oh baby, oh baby, oh baby! Enchiladas! Being from New Mexico, I didn’t dare use this as a pairing suggestion so I’m thrilled it’s on this month’s menu.

    In New Mexico, there is a special code in how you order your enchiladas…..
    flat or rolled
    red, green or christmas
    queso, shredded carne or pollo
    and a side of posole

    Personally, I love a rolled, camaron (shrimp) with green but on occasion I order it a cheese enchilada, flat with red.

    AND, don’t forget the Negra Modelo!

    Is it the best beer in the world? No. Is it a great beer? Not when compared to specialty brews. But it is a great enchiladas fit when ordering a big fat one at a Mexican taqueria on a Friday night after work. It’s one of those flavorful Mexican beers that is a one-size-fits-all for whatever you end up ordering while at the comedor.

    Negra Modelo is widely available in Mexican eateries from the dingiest taco truck to the classiest of restaurants. It is made more or less in the Vienna lager style with a toasty, caramelly sweetness that compliments spicy foods such as the enchilada. Negra Modelo has a boldness to match tomato-based salsas and sauces, and doesn’t take the focus away from the guts of the flat big boy smothered in cheese and spicy red chili sauce.

    Oh, yeah! Enchiladas and Negra Modelo! Dinner at my house, 6:00 p.m. on Saturday. You bring the beer, I’ll make the dinner!

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    • I had a feeling this one would get you excited. My wife is a Texan and she is looking forward to cooking up some enchiladas for dinner this weekend as well. Now I have to decide what to pair… Hmmm….

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  5. Reblogged this on and commented:
    It’s June, it’s hot, and it’s time for some Negra Modelo!
    Grab your besties and head on out to your favorite Mexican restaurant, sit outside in their shaded patio, start off with an order of pico de gallo and some chips, a round of Negra Modelo for all at the table, and order your enchilada fav.

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  6. Yum! Enchiladas are my specialty! Beer seems like the obvious choice, but I’m going to stick to the wine for this challenge and choose two different types. For white, I’d say Torrontes – especially if the enchiladas are spicy. It’s got enough acidity to cut through the spice and richness of the cheese, as well as a nice crispness to refresh the palate. For red, I’ll say Petite Sirah. Random, I know, but I think it is robust and rich enough to pair well with the heavy cheese and meat without losing its characteristics.

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  7. From the Twitter space @mocha_y says, “Idc what I’m eating – the only wine I drink is Pinot Grigio. Love, love, love.”

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  8. I’m going to class it up and suggest Black Box Malbec. Box wine what? Yeah, you read correctly. I think of enchiladas as an easy to toss together week night meal. We normally don’t pop good wine during the week or open pricey craft beers (we’re frugal). Black Box actually makes some decent weeknight red table wines. I wanted to pick a white for this pairing but find most boxed whites to be too acidic. The Malbec has a nice medium mouth feel which would nicely compliment a semi-heavy dish.

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  9. Mexican enchiladas mmmmmhhhh!! my mouth is watering!

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