If you’re like most people, then you probably have a love-hate relationship with Tequila. Countless mornings waking up with a pounding headache probably assured that. Fear not though, Tequila is so much more than the headache-inducing gold liquid you took shots of in college. Tequila is one of the most versatile and complex spirits out there. As tequilas go, there are five main types, each with their own unique flavor profiles and qualities. Let’s take a look so you can decide which one’s going to work best with your meal.
Pair With: Chipotle Roast Chicken Tacos
When you think of the painful, hangover-inducing tequila you consumed back in college, this is the one you’re thinking of. Gold tequila is only required to be 51% agave and is often mixed with flavoring or colors. That being said, the right kind of gold tequila makes for a great-tasting fix. Due to its strong taste, make sure to pair it with something sturdy enough to stand up against it. The sugars in gold tequila pair perfectly with spicy food and your favorite Mexican classics. It’s perfect for warm nights spent eating tacos with good friends.
Pair With: Scallop Crudo
This is the tequila that most tequila lovers swear by. Silver Tequila is made of 100% agave and is unaged, making it the purest tequila experience around. With these tequilas, the agave flavor is very present and its natural sweetness shines through. When you’re making a margarita, this is the tequila you want to use. Since silver tequila isn’t aged, it has a light, fresh taste perfect for lighter foods like vegetables and fish. Instead of overpowering your meal, silver tequila will give it that clean accent that’ll take it to the next level. Ceviches or crudos work as a great pairing for silver tequila.
Pair With: Grilled Pork Tenderloin
Unlike the tequilas you’re likely familiar with, Tequila Reposado is an entirely different beast. Aged in American or French oak barrels for anywhere from two to eleven months, Tequila Reposado balances the natural flavor of agave with the wood it’s aged in. The flavor develops into something on par with whiskey, making it great for spicy foods and meats like pork. Think smoky and woodsy, reminiscent of the flavors in your favorite barbeque.
Drink: Don Julio
Pair With: Spice Rubbed Steak
If you’re used to drinking gold tequila, Tequila Anejo will completely blow away your expectations of what tequila can be. Aged for at least a year, Tequila Anejo transforms into a rich amber color and develops a smooth and extremely complex taste. With its deep, rich flavor profile, Tequila Anejos go great with red meats and luxurious desserts. Tequila Anejo has rich burnt sugar flavors that pair best with flavorful dishes that pack a punch.
Tequila Extra Anejo
Now, Tequila Extra Anejo isn’t for the faint of heart. Aged in barrels for a minimum of three years, Tequila Extra Anejo is extremely smooth and complex. Think of Tequila Extra Anejo as the liquor Don Draper would enjoy if he drank tequila. While they could pair with most of the same foods as Tequila Anejo, Extra Anejos should be enjoyed on their own.
Tequila is a great spirit to pair with food and is only recently getting the attention it deserves in the culinary world. Experiment with tequilas and start trying to match them with your favorite foods. Just keep in mind which flavors in the tequila are going to go with what you’re making, as choosing the wrong one could ruin a great meal. That being said, tequila is wonderfully complex and can add depth to any culinary pursuit you’re thinking of trying.
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