Premium high-quality tequila tasting... before you know it you'll be laughing at everything and hugging donkeys! It happens to the best of us. Discovering a fabulous new something is exhilarating and as I have discovered in Mexico... tequila goes with everything. Especially chocolate. This is Sophia by the way, and she's pretty fabulous too.
I know, I know it's not something that you would ordinarily think to put together but trust me, it works. Millions of Mexicans can't be wrong, and on this point, I have to say I agree. Dark cacao and aged tequila are amazing together. Who knew?! Well obviously the millions of Mexicans are smarter than me and discovered this but for us tequila newbies, it's an honour to be in the birthplace of both tequila and chocolate.
See, it all started because I'm currently living on Cozumel Island for a few months and got to thinking about all the cool stuff there is to do here. Of course there is all the 'touristy' stuff like shopping, snorkelling. adventure this and adventure that but when you walk down the main street and a man asks you to come in for a free tequila tasting for the fourth time that morning, well, you start to wonder about tequila.
Mexico is famous for it right?! And I don't really know anything about it but didn't want to go to one of those beachside shacks where they dish out shots like candy. You know the ones, where you are surrounded by twenty somethings or a bus load of loud tourists all cramming around for a free taste and the more shots they have, the louder they get...ugh yuk.
No, I wanted a classier experience and I found it. Mexico's oldest and first established tequila house Jose Cuervo has a premium tasting where you learn about: the three high-quality tequilas, what to look for in a tequila, how to choose the right one for you and best of all, taste some of the good stuff.
You may think - der - but honestly once you have tried the good stuff, you'll never go back. Gone are the days of beachside shots.
See, that's the biggest secret. Tequila is not meant to be in a shot! It is meant to be sipped and savoured and satisfying. Shots 'burn' all the way down because you have generally taken a young freshly distilled tequila and drunk too much in one mouthful.
Tequila is not meant to be chugged, quaffed, skulled or shotted. If tasted correctly it is actually very pleasant no matter the age of the tequila. Form the new Blanco (white) tequila only aged to a maximum of 2moths in barrel through to the aged Añejo (aged) tequila that is aged between 1-3years in barrel, once you've been shown by a professional how to do it right it opens up a whole new world.
100% Blue Agave from the Tequila area of Mexico is the true tequila. Only in this region do the agave plants produce the correct amount of sugar within to produce top quality tequilas. Sure, blue agave is grown all over Mexico but it produces a different liquor called Mezcal. There is a saying here, it goes like this...
All tequilas are a Mezcal, but not all Mezcals are Tequila!
So for those unfamiliar with the geography of Mexico it is only grown in this section...which narrows on the other side forming a triangle.
Thanks to my lovely assistant Bou (shown in this picture) you can see that this is a huge chunk of Mexico.
Now let's move on to how you taste tequila. I know, you're thinking.. drink it Bel... but just wait and have patience for a little moment and I will explain how to make it mind-blowing OK. Bou says you have to use all 5 senses and there are five steps in the tasting process.
First the 5 senses.
1.Look - watch as you swirl it in the glass and see how long it takes to run back down he side of the glass. Like in wine tasting, this is called the 'legs' - the long streaks that run back down.
2. Smell - 3 sniffs strategically placed will allow you to pick up different nuances of the tequila... sounds crazy but it works.
3.Taste - take a sip and swirl it in your mouth for 5seconds then after you swallow exhale through your mouth which takes the 'burn' away.. once again, don't ask me how, but it works.
4. Feel - yes that's right FEEL. Pour a little tequila onto the palm of your hand and rub your hands together then smell them. The oils from the barrel leave an imprint of the tequila and a strangely satisfying aroma. It's not strong, it's not alcohol, it's pleasant and earthy and oaky and I really liked it.
5. Hear - raise your glass and say 'Salud' (health) which is customary as you share health, good company and a glass of fine tequila.
Now let me tell you about the three types of tequila.
Blanco (white) - aged up to 2 months in barrel - sharp, clean crisp taste. A newly distilled tequila, this one is the one most commonly accused of the 'burn' as it goes down. This is due to having too large a quantity in your mouth. In the case of young tequila, less is more as they say. It is meant to be mixed to make a margarita or cocktail, never to be a shot.
Reposado (rested) is a gorgeous golden honey colour - aged 2 months to 1 year in barrel - more balanced and well-rounded it's smoother making a tequila that is lovely to sip with an aftertaste that hangs around for awhile. A very pleasant surprise just how different this one was from the blanco. Meant to be sipped and savoured.
Añejo (aged) - 1-3 years in barrel and my favourite - this deep amber golden tequila has a rich, smooth flavour that stays with you. A sip of this followed by a small bite of dark high cacao chocolate is amazing. It knocked my socks off and honestly I did not expect that going into the tasting. I preferred the chocolate after a sip but others preferred it before the sip to mingle with the tequila. Anyway you want to have it is amazing.
Now that you know which one you like you just have to make sure you get what you pay for. There are 3 main things to look for Bou says.
1. It says Tequila somewhere on the label. They can only use the word Tequila if it is made in that region... there are strict rules and they are actually enforced within Mexico.
2. Make sure it says 100% Agave. Look left and my lovely assistant is pointing to a prime example to help you out.
3. There is a barcode of one of those barcode squares on the bottle. This means it has been inspected, passed and taxes have been paid.
Everything is above board and it's a pure, premium tequila.
And viola folks, there you have it. Now you too are a connoisseur of tequila. An aficionado of agave. A maestro of mezcal... I could go on but all I would really like is for you all to go forth and purchase some high cacao dark chocolate and a bottle of Añejo (aged) Tequila and try this amazing experience for yourself.
This is going to rock your world! Please let me know if it does, I'd love to hear from you.