Chipotle Wine Pairings

What pairs best with your burrito - and more!


Vegetarian Burrito

I’m not a vegetarian (far from it, in fact), but this burrito was the easiest to pair with wines even though it contained guacamole, usually a difficult item for wine pairings. While the veggie burrito was easy to pair, it didn’t work well with the some of the reds. The Jam Jar was just too sweet, really clashing with the dish and the Pinot turned lean and rather stripped. The Chardonnay also didn’t fare all that well, turning crisp but lacking the intensity to cut through the fat, much like the rosé.

Triple Gold!

That left three wines that worked well with this burrito, all for different reasons.

The Torrontes seemed dry and rich when paired with the burrito, but it had such great acidity that it was able to cut right through the guacamole. The citrusy flavors were also an excellent accent to the flavors of the dish.

The Riesling, on the other hand, took cues from the sweetness of the grilled peppers and corn in the dish, both of which tempered the sweetness of the wine, allowing the textures of the guacamole and the wine to complement each other.

The Zinfandel was the big surprise for me here. The intensity of the flavors somehow matched up nicely between the wine and the food, with the subtle sweetness of the cooked veggies in the dish accenting the fruit of the wine.

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Chicken Burrito

I thought that this dish, possibly the most popular on the menu, would be an easy one to pair with wine, but somehow it turned out to be the most difficult. Nearly every wine reacted oddly with this combination of ingredients. The Torrontes turned a little sweet and highlighted the spiciness of the dish, while not really adding anything to the pairing. The Chardonnay, on the other hand, turned lean and a bit attenuated. Serviceable, but again, not adding anything to the pairing.

The Jam Jar was simply sweet and fruity, coming off more like fruit juice than wine here. The Zin also turned sweet and jammy, though with an oddly dried out finish. The Pinot simply lacked the intensity to show up for the game.

Narrowing the field

That left two wines that worked, though neither pairing was great. The rosé worked fairly well, though it had its crisp mineral aspect highlighted. A refreshing contrast and a fun way to wash down your burrito, but nothing special.

The Riesling, on the other hand, did its textural thing again. The flavors of the dish really backed off the sweetness level here and highlighted the flavors of the veggies.  It was the best pairing of this round, but far from the best pairing of the day.

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Steak Fajita Burrito

This turned out to be another challenging item to pair with wine. All the flavors came together in a rather intense way and the beans in the burritos seem to make wine pairing even more of a challenge. The Torrontes was a bit sweet and flat here, the rosé dull and lean, as was the Chardonnay (if less so). The Riesling turned clear and citrusy, but the sugar dulled the flavors of the food.

The Jam Jar worked sort of well here, taking on a more vinous character with the beefy contrast, but the winners were definitely…

Red Wines Rule

The red wines! That’s not at all surprising, though. The fact that both the Pinot and the Zin worked here was a little enlightening.

The Pinot was not the best match but the dish made the wine’s light cherry fruit really pop and while this was a simple pairing, I can totally see pairing these again, though next time I would lightly chill the Pinot to highlight its easy, quaffable character.

The Zin, on the other hand, handily won this round. The burrito smoothed out the texture of the wine and really brought out its juicy varietal character. The interplay of jammy black fruit with gentle herbal suggestions worked really well with the grilled beef, peppers and onions in this dish.

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What to drink when you're having only one?

I’ve got to say that this was another exciting round of the Fast Food Wine Challenge.  The biggest surprise for me – and it was a very big surprise – was how well the Kenwood Chardonnay worked with many of the dishes and how perfect it was with the chicken tacos! It’s not the best wine with every dish, but if you’re only buying one wine for your next Chipotle feast, it’s the one I would suggest you stock up on!

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  • Very entertaining piece. I am a Chipotle Veggie Bowl regular and I've often taken my food to go, sat down at home and tried to decide if I should bother opening a bottle of wine, only to find out it clashed with the flavors. Reislings do tend to taste good with mexican food, though. Thanks!

    Jun 22, 2011 at 3:07 PM

  • Snooth User: ichito
    46202 103

    with all due respect, but those of us familliar with "real mexican", cuisine, the only drink that pairs well with the food is beer. You see, a successful taco is well dressed with salsa, this naturally will tend to overpower, unless one is used or is inclined to use a milder type.
    I found that mild chipotle pairs well with a white that is more oakley, like a California Chardonnay, since chipotle has this smokey taste.Stronger salsa, and you would switch to beer, it handles it better.
    For me wines are best for a lot more refined mexican cuisine, that does not relay so much on strong spices. Like the dishes from the east.

    Jun 22, 2011 at 3:16 PM

  • Snooth User: dmcker
    Hand of Snooth
    125836 5,302

    Holy moly, Greg, you're earning your way towards a medal (and likely a health check) if this series continues further.

    'Real Mexican' really has nothing to do with these dishes. This is TexMex (or CalMex), with a hint of Brazil, transliterated from its native US regions by chains, etc. to the remote eastern seaboard. Nothing to do with the sauces of Oaxaca, or of Veracruz, or of a dozen other lregions, and all sorts of other preparations of meat and fish, much less tortillas.

    But the mission Greg defined is a useful one. I usually go for beer, too, but why not throw some wine in the mix with takeout? Still this is a much more difficult challenge than the McDonald's installment. Who is actually not going to use the salsa?

    Anyway, if your health holds up, Greg, keep it up. I can invision another dozen or two or three of some interesting matches....

    Jun 22, 2011 at 8:27 PM

  • Snooth User: SandraG05
    870339 9

    I too love Mexican Food, both TexMex and the authentic dishes. I often try to pair my foods with wines from the region where the cuisine is from but have found it hard to get Mexican wines in the US. Mexican beer and tequila is everywhere but where’s the wine? I’ve heard Baja is making some great wines and they’re coming to the states through Baja Wines, anyone know more about this?

    Jun 23, 2011 at 12:07 PM

  • Snooth User: Huaino
    811541 105

    Tasty article, but ...what happened to fish tacos (ahi tuna) and giving a vino Mexicano a try ??!! (I live near Ensenada, Baja CA., their place of origin and also the epicenter of the ground-gaining Mexican wine industry).
    If I may, a suggested article if you are not familiar with this interesting trend known as 'Baja Med'(iterraenian), a renaissance of food and wine happening in northern Baja:

    Salud y buen provecho !

    Jun 23, 2011 at 12:22 PM

  • Snooth User: karat
    541180 345

    thanks greg - now i'm craving mexican. never gave much thought to the wine pairings past sangria (and the beer mentioned above!) but i'm going to try some of those whites. my mom is coming to town and i'm seeing chipotle and a few of these suggestions on the menu!

    Jun 23, 2011 at 11:52 PM

  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 238,749

    Thanks everybody! Yes I'm going to do my best and see what works with all the most popular restaurants here in the states, and then some of the less popular. No fish tacos here in NYC's Chipotle, but a trip to Rubios might be in the cards!

    Baja, will have to follow, maybe very closely indeed!

    Jun 24, 2011 at 6:10 AM

  • Snooth User: esstee1
    837917 15

    I don't like Chipotle however I think this is a great article & shared with my friends that do.... :)

    Jun 29, 2011 at 5:18 AM

  • Snooth User: lakenvelder
    Hand of Snooth
    544484 519

    We eat a lot of Mexican food but it is mostly prepared at home. Chardonnay is what I have found too to go well with the spicy meal. Riesling is another one.

    Aug 15, 2012 at 5:18 PM

  • good

    Aug 30, 2013 at 2:52 AM

  • wonderful

    Aug 31, 2013 at 4:59 AM

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