Wines from Mexico

Henry Yuen

Clean, crispy Chenie Blanc fm MexicoI love Mexican food, it often gives me the gusto of is a festive cuisine and best enjoy in a party setting. However, when it comes to Mexico wine, I don’t have much encounter yet.  The only so call tasting took place many years ago on a cruise to Ensenada where I had the chance to taste some Mexican wine during a land tour visit to a monastery. The monks had their own winery but the wines were neither out of any ordinary nor did they give me lasting impression.   The climate and terrain made growing wine grapes a challenge back then, consequently, it required strenuous intervention and efforts.

Though Mexico had a long history of making wine dating back to the Spanish colonial era, drinking wine definitely took a back seat to other popular beverages in Mexico. It was more common to see people drinking beer and tequila than a glass of wine.  Despite of Mexico’s long wine making history, the wine industry in Mexico has seen it’s up and down due to various political upheaval and changes in the rule of the land over the years. Now a new generation of proprietors are emerging to revive the industry and I am intrigued by it, though some of the wines are not yet available in the general liquor stores.

At a recent tasting hosted by Tourism Mexico to promote Mexican Cuisine as a UNECSO designated Intangible Cultural Heritage, I had a chance to taste some contemporary Mexican wines. What I mean is that these wines are crafted by some young winemakers using grapes from wineries that employ advance viticulture methods to improve quality.  Here’re what I had that evening:

 A Monte Xanic Chenin Blanc-Colombard was served with the first course Sopa Tarasca – a Soup with Tomato, Flor de Mayo Bean and Chile Ancho.  The Chenin Blanc was fresh and clean with a hint of green apple and enough acidity to pair well with the zesty tomato soup.  Chicken Breast stuffed with Nopales, Red Mole was the main course and was paired with Casa Madero Shiraz which expressed itself with an appealing earthy tone, slightly oaked and with some black berries and spices. It was not quite full-bodied but well represented and stood up well to the thicker sauce of the chicken dish.  I had to say, this was one evening of delightful flavour and education that turned a new chapter in my perception towards Mexican food and wine.

Still a hill to climb when compared to both the Old World and New World wines, the price point and product

A surprising delightful red with a round bouquet and body

knowledge are drawbacks at this point to support more Mexican wine in BC.  Various inherent production costs, business economics and taxation factors limit the availability and popularity of these wines, at least here.  As a result, consumers may hesitate to grab these wines on a regular basis. Yet, for true wine loves who enjoy exploration, new age Mexican wines are definitely worthwhile alternatives, especially if they are good drinking wines representing new discoveries from a relatively unknown wine region with a story to tell.

Chinese New Year Do’s and Don’ts

Prawn pronouces as 'Ha' in Cantonese - everyone needs to laugh aloud as often as possible!

Love Vancouver, especially during cultural festivals.  This time of the year, of course I’m talking about Chinese New Year (CNY)!

Friends and colleagues send me email blessings, New Year charms and Rabbit images of all kinds – bowing, dancing, hopping, singing and laughing.  True and behold, a few of my non-Asian friends were ahead of me – they started asking me about CNY back in December!  What to do and eat, how to prepare, what are the traditions…there’re more and more non-Asian folks joining in for the food and fun!

Since I’ve been talking CNY food to a large extend on TV, radio and on print, why don’t I just change gear here and brief about the do’s and don’ts about CNY? Unavoidably, there’ll be tips on food stuff.

Do’s

  • If your family is around, go and have dinner with them.
  • Go to a Chinese bakery and get yourself some CNY pastries and Lenn Gao (CNY cakes) and bite into some CNY charms and lucks.
  • Be a vegan for at least one day – the first day of the CNY, which is tomorrow, Feb 3rd to say ‘Thanks’ to all the animals that sacrifice their lives to feed us.
  • Greet everyone with ‘Gung Hey Fat Choy’. 
  • Get yourself a new outfit and wear it tomorrow.
  • Get a hair cut.
  • Go to a flower market or CNY fair. (Most Asian Malls and temples are hosting them, go to www.tourismrichmond.com or www.tourismvancouver.com for times and locations.
  • Go to the Chinatown CNY parade this Sunday.

 

Don’ts 

  • Play around with any kind of fake money and certain paper products. Some of them are 

meant for the dead.  Check with your Chinese friends who know the culture and tradition.

  • Put fake money/coins into the Lei-si (red envelope),  
  • Sweep the floor on New Year’s Day.
  • Complain when you’re served a whole fish or whole chicken with their heads and tails still intact. Wholeness is important, especially during CNY.
  • Avoid arguing on the 3rd day of CNY (Saturday).  According to the Lunar Calendar, that’s the day when one can easily lose one’s temper and get into heated confrontations.
  • Fool around in Temples – show your respect even if you don’t know what’s going on.

In case you’re interested, I’ll be talking about Chinese New Year tomorrow at 103.5 with Tara and Mike and at Breakfast TV with Dawn on CityTV.

Well, here are my blessings to you all:

Wan-sze-ru-yee (May all your good wishes come true in Mandarin)

Loong-ma-jing-sun (Good health and good energy in Cantonese)