August 05, 2022 by Arden Montgomery
Best Wine for Cuban Food
Wine is pretty far down the list of most popular beverages to pair with Cuban cuisine. Vino Cubano is a relatively newfangled industry with a history that is utterly dwarfed by the island’s lengthy relationship with coffee, beer, rum, and other quintessentially-Cuban beverages.
However, contemporary Cuban comida integrates influences from far-reaching countries where wine is the drink of choice, and viticulture is represented as an integral part of the region’s self-conception. The flavors, unique ingredients, and culinary traditions of these myriad points of origin marry to create a food scene that is totally unique to Cuba. Plus, it’s totally wine-friendly.
How to pair wine with Cuban food
Most somms will tell you to reach for a bottle of Spanish Rioja or Rosado if you’re having a generically Cuban spread. Spain was for centuries the primary colonizer of the now-independent island. As a result, much of Cuban cuisine has a distinctly Spanish feel and flavor – meaning a vino de Espana is your best bet.
But the tropical traditions of the indigenous Taino remain strong in modern practice, with island fruits and fish dominating large parts of the menu. Influences brought in by enslaved Africans can also be found in the herbs and spices in Cuban seasonings. Finally, French and Italian foods have similarly left their mark on the cuisine as it exists today, offering a range of great options to choose from when selecting an ideal wine pairing.
From a traditional Ropa Vieja entree to a casual Cuban sandwich, the sheer breadth of these culinary creations gives foodies and oenophiles plenty of opportunities to explore wine matches to their heart’s content.
Below are a few bottles in the Argaux collection we think will go great with any number of Cuban dishes.
Best wine for cuban food
- 2019 Anza Diego Magaña Rioja – $31
A Rioja from Rioja, Spain, that’s just waiting to accompany you to your next Guaracha. A classic, elegant, old-vine grown and sustainably farmed Tempranillo-dominant blend, the palate offers notes of cherry and chalk that will complement a simple almond, olive and jamon tapas platter beautifully. Rising star winemaker Diego Magana says that this bottle is his favorite vintage he’s created so far – so get it while the getting’s good!
- 2020 Cargaux Pinot Noir – $45
This bottle provides the perfect and delicious nod to the African influences of Cuban cuisine. A collaborative effort between Storm Wines and Chase Carhartt, the Cargaux Pinot is light with a silky smooth structure and delicate acidity that rolls out the red carpet for the floral, fruity, and spicy flavors. Classic pork dishes like slow-cooked carnitas will find themselves well-matched with this South African red.
- 2021 Origin Santa Cruz Mountains Rosé – $32
We can’t get enough of this delectably drinkable rosé here at Argaux. And paired with a citrusy plate of Mojito Cerdo, we think you’ll understand what we mean. Intentionally created as a flavorful experience, the winemakers at The Lester Family Vineyard curated the incoming grapes to boost and broaden the tates of red berries and citrus fruits within this beautiful bottle. Sip once and enjoy a finish that seems to go on forever.
- 2019 Bachelet-Monnot Maranges Rouge ‘La Fussière’ Premier Cru – $55
A nod to the French influences in Cuban cuisine, this is the wine to grab when Cuban sandwiches are front and center on your lunch menu. Pinot numero dos on our list today, this wine stands out for the spicy undertones afforded by 15% whole cluster vinification – perfect for complementing the buttery crunch of a classic French roll. Expect a smooth and cherry-forward palate to elevate your next mouthful of ham, cheese, and pickles.
- 2019 Cascina Fontana Barbera d’Alba – $39
For casual wine drinkers and seasoned oenophiles alike, this red is an accessible introduction to the vineyards of Italy as well as a distinct display of the Piedmont terroir. Jammy, spicy, floral, and tinged with graphite, the flavors of the Barbera d’Alba will pair perfectly with a barbecued Cuban-style pork tenderloin, or a generous pile of spicy arroz con gandules.
- 2018 DeMorgenzon DMZ Western Cape Chardonnay – $20
Another classic from the Cape, the DMZ is a South African Chardonnay we’re convinced must have been made with a Cuban-style dish of seafood ceviche with avocado in mind. Vanilla, apple, and caramel call back to the quintessential baked-good-ness of a traditional Chardonnay, and notes of pineapple and peach give it a tropical edge that promise to make this the latest island favorite.
- 2020 Norris Ribbon Ridge Dry Riesling – $35
Sweet, dry, and delicate, what better way to end the article than with a viticultural match to a true Cuban classic, Ropa Vieja? The fatty red dish is full of vibrant flavors coming from paprika, peppers, onions, and oregano, and needs a little lightening from a sweet and citrusy pair to bring out the best in those ingredients and elevate the experience overall. This delicious Oregonian Riesling is absolutely the answer.
If you want to dive a little deeper into which bottles in the Argaux collection go with certain cuisines (or single ingredients for that matter) there’s a lot more going on over at the Argaux blog. Does the mention of jamon have your mouth watering? Learn more about viticultural matches for ham here. If you’re looking to get cute with your pork products, check out Argaux’s best bottles for a charcuterie board here.
Or, if you’re looking for something really, really specific we didn’t mention above, connect with our Pocket Somm app for a personalized recommendation from an in-house sommelier.