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  • Writer's pictureCarlos Sarmiento

Mexican wines featuring sparkling wine risotto & grilled hanger steak with mushroom-red wine sauce.

Updated: Apr 15, 2022

(Photo: Carlos Sarmiento)

For quite some time I have been interested in learning more about new world wines, including wines from Mexico. The history of Mexican wines actually derive from old world wines and classic traditions.

During a recent virtual wine tasting class, I had the unique opportunity to learn in detail about wines from Mexico, thanks to Max Murphy from Tozi Imports.

Vinos del Marques, Querétaro

(Photo courtesy Tozi Imports)

Mexico has been producing wine since the early 16th century. While it once only made table wine for religious services, Mexico is now producing world class wine and is at the forefront of blending innovation and experimentation.

There are five main wine making regions in Mexico.

Bodegas de la Parra Casa-Ubon, Aguascalientes

(Photo courtesy Tozi Imports)


Aguascalientes is one of Mexico’s smallest states, but it is also the fifth largest wine producing region in the country. With an average elevation of over 6.500 feet above sea level, and a high over over 10,000 feet above sea level, this is one of Central Mexico’s high elevation wine regions. The climate is semi-arid, with the exception of the northeast and southeast areas which tend to be a little cooler and wetter than the rest of Aguascalientes. It is known for its hot water springs and is one of the few parts of Mexico that consistently must worry about hail in the vineyards. The most popular varietals grown are Nebbiolo and Malbec, with Sauvignon Blanc emerging as well

Cava Maciel, Baja California

(Photo courtesy Tozi Imports)


Baja California is home to 90% of all Mexican wine production. It borders the United States along Southern California and is home to Mexico’s Napa Valley - The Valle de Guadalupe. This is the northernmost wine growing region in Mexico, just north of the 30th parallel. With a Mediterranean climate and granite-rich soils, the Valle de Guadalupe is ideally suited to make world class wines. Varietals grown here include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Tempranillo, Nebbiolo, Sangiovese, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc. The Valle de Guadalupe is truly a melting pot of ideas and blends.

Vinos Guanamé, Guanajuato

(Photo courtesy Tozi Imports)


Guanajuato is located in Central Mexico and is an exciting up and coming wine region. With an average elevation of over 6,500 feet above sea level, the region sees very warm days and cool nights - ideal for grape growing. Early August rains lead to an early harvest, just as the grapes are hitting their full stride. Varietals grown here include Malbec, Tempranillo, Merlot, Syrah, and Muscat.

Freixenet México, Querétaro

(Photo courtesy Tozi Imports)


Querétaro is the southernmost wine producing region in the Northern Hemisphere. Located southeast of Guanajuato, Querétaro is just as arid and its wineries enjoy an even higher average elevation of 7,000 feet above sea level. This high elevation allows grapes to thrive in the hot climate. This region is especially known for its sparkling wines that are made in a style similar to Cava. Varietals grown include Xarel-lo, Parellada, Macabeo, Malbec, Tempranillo, Nebbiolo, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Viognier, Sauvignon Blanc, and Chardonnay.

Tierra Adentro, Zacatecas

(Photo courtesy Tozi Imports)


Zacatecas is located northwest of Guanajuato and is home to some of the highest elevation wineries in Mexico. Zacatecas has a cool, dry climate; in fact, there are no major rivers running through the entire state. Its mineral-rich soils allow for great winemaking at 7,500 feet above sea level. The primary varietal grown in Zacatecas is Malbec, but one can also find Nebbiolo, Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Viognier.

For today’s posting I will be featuring two wines from Querétaro region, a sparkling and a red.

Alas, one of my culinary and enophile bucket list items has finally been checked off…Mexican wines, but I will definitely be looking forward to trying more soon.

Let‘s get cooking!


Sparkling wine risotto with fried rosemary sprigs and sage leafs.

Grilled hanger steak with mushroom-red wine sauce and charred vegetables.

Wine pairing:

NV Freixenet Mexico Viña Doña Dolores Brut Gran Reserva (Ezequiel Montes, Querétaro, Mexico) for the risotto.

2016 Vinos del Marqués Música del Marqués Nebbiolo (El Marques, Querétaro, Mexico) for the steak.

Serves 4

Ingredients Risotto:

  • 4 cups of vegetable broth or stock

  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter

  • 1/2 cup chopped shallots

  • 1 cup arborio rice

  • 1/2 cup of sparkling wine

  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmiggiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano cheese

  • 1/4 cup of extra Virgin olive oil

  • 4-6 fresh sprigs of rosemary

  • 1/2 cup of fresh sage leaves

  • Zest of 2 lemons (for garnish)


  • 1 3/4 to 2 pounds of hanger steak, trimmed.

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • 12 ounces assorted mushrooms, torn or cut into large pieces

  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, divided

  • 2 medium sized shallots, finely minced

  • 1 cup dry red wine

  • 3/4 cup low-salt beef stock

Charred vegetables:

  • 4 small red sweet peppers

  • 1 pack of asparagus spears

  • Sea salt & pepper

  • Extra Virgin olive oil for drizzling



  • In a large frying pan, on low heat, add olive oil. Once the oil is hot, gently add the rosemary sprigs and sage leafs. Cook until lightly browned and crunchy. Remove rosemary and sage from pan and place on a paper towel-lined plate. Set aside for garnishing.

  • In a large sauce pan, on medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of butter and cook shallots until soften.

  • Add rice and continue to cook on medium heat for a minute or two.

  • Add the sparkling wine. Slowly stir, allowing the rice to absorb the wine.

  • Add the vegetable stock, 1/2 cup at a time (only adding after the previous addition has been absorbed by the rice). Continue to stir until the liquid is almost completely absorbed. Stir often to prevent the rice from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

  • Continue cooking and stirring rice, adding a little bit of broth at a time, cooking and stirring until it is absorbed, until the rice is tender, but still firm to the bite, about 20-25 minutes.

  • Stir in the cheese and remaining 1 tablespoon of butter. Turn off the heat. Serve immediately.

*Note the stock amount suggested is an approximate measurement. You may need a little more or less. If you end up needing more stock and find yourself without it, just add water.


  • Season hanger steak with sea salt and pepper. Drizzle steak with some extra Virgin olive oil.

  • Grill the steak until cooked to your desired doneness, (about 4 to 5 minutes on each side for medium-rare). Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for about 10 minutes. Thinly slice against the grain.

  • In medium sized pan, melt two tablespoons of unsalted butter on medium heat. Add shallots and cook for 3-5 minutes.

  • Add mushrooms and cook for 3-5 minutes. Add wine and stir. Add beef stock and bring to quick boil, stirring throughout.

  • Add 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter and some cracked pepper, stir and remove from heat.

Charred vegetables:

  • In a medium sized bowl, mix: oil, salt and pepper (to taste).

  • Place asparagus and peppers flat on a long deep dish. Drizzle marinade mixture on top.

  • Grill asparagus and peppers for approximately 3-5 minutes on each side or until slightly charred. Once cooked, remove from grill and set aside for individual servings/garnish.

Serve it up!

These two dishes can easily be enjoyed together but there is something unique and special of separating and serving them individually to ehance the wine pairing experience.

My recommendation is to begin with the risotto, paired with the sparkling wine. To plate up, simply spoon about 1/3 cup of risotto to the center of bowl. Garnish on top with a one or two fried rose sprigs and some fried sage leafs. Finish off with some lemon zest, cracked pepper and some grated cheese.

The hanger steak will pair exquisitely with the red wine. For plating up, place 3 to 5 slices of hanger steak on the middle of the plate. Garnish with a charred pepper or two next to the steak and some asparagus on the other side. Finally, top part of the steaks with the mushroom sauce.

Buen provecho! Enjoy!

(Photo: Carlos Sarmiento)

(Photo: Carlos Sarmiento)

(Photo: Carlos Sarmiento)

(Photo: Carlos Sarmiento)

(Photo: Carlos Sarmiento)

(Photo: Carlos Sarmiento)

About the wines…

NV Freixenet Mexico Viña Doña Dolores Brut Gran Reserva

(Ezequiel Montes, Querétaro, Mexico)

(Photo: Carlos Sarmiento)

Founded in 1979, Freixenet México is located in Ezequiel Montes, Querétaro and is a member of the Henkell-Freixenet family of wineries.

The largest winery in Central Mexico, and one of the largest in the country overall, Freixenet México must practice extreme viticulture in its semi-arid conditions at over 6,500 feet above sea level.

Like most other wineries in the Henkell-Freixenet family, Freixenet México focuses primarily on sparkling wine, which accounts for over 70% of its annual production.

Renowned winemaker Lluis Raventós, originally from Spain, incorporates classic Cava varietals Xarel-lo and Macabeu, as well as Ugni Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon, to create these various sparkling wines.

Freixenet México provides valuable technical expertise and equipment to the burgeoning wine industry Central Mexico. With an annual production of 225,000 cases of wine, Freixenet México is truly a world class winery.

Tasting notes:

Nose: Apple and pear with notes of brioche toast.

Palate: Medium body, bright stone fruit, subtle mousse, soft finish.


50% Macabeu

50% Xarel-lo

Food pairing: Delicate dishes like risotto, mild seafood, crisp salads.

2016 Vinos del Marqués Música del Marqués Nebbiolo

(El Marques, Querétaro, Mexico)

(Photo: Carlos Sarmiento)

Founded in 2013, Vinos del Marqués located in El Marqués, Querétaro, approximately 3 hours north of Mexico City.

This is in the heart of the Central Mexico Highlands. With its vineyards located at 5,905 feet above sea level in an arid climate, Vinos del Marqués truly practices extreme viticulture. Being at this high elevation allows the winery to grow quality grapes despite being located just south of the 21st parallel.

Winemaker Mauricio Rodríguez is a rising star in the country; he serves as a consultant with several other Mexican wineries, but Vinos del Marqués is his baby.

Vinos del Marqués is notable in its heavy use of Nebbiolo, an unusual grape to grow at such a high altitude, but one that does extremely well in this terroir.

Wines produced include a Nebbiolo/Tempranillo Rosé, Tempranillo, Nebbiolo, Syrah, and a Nebbiolo/Syrah Reserve Wine. With only 2,000 cases of total production, this is truly an up and coming boutique winery.

Tasting notes:

Nose: Rose petals, violets, black cherry, plum.

Palate: Blackberry, red cherries, raspberries, anise, dry tannins.


90% Nebbiolo

10% Malbec

Food pairing: Grilled steaks, cooked vegetables, mushroom sauce, pizza.

Thank you to Max Murphy from Tozi Imports for providing these unique and fine Mexican wines, and to David Crowley from Wine Pairing Weekend Facebook Group & who made this all possible. Gracias!

For more information, visit:


For morw culianry inspiration and other wondeful Mexican varietals, here are additonal recipe links from various #winePW bloggers exploring Mexican wines.

Wendy from a A Day in the Life on the Farm will share “Mexican Foods and Wines always provide for a Perfect Fiesta

Susannah from Avvinare is “Discovering Mexican Wine

Jen from Vino Travels is taking “A First Look at Mexican Wines Including Italian Grapes

Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Camilla is sharing “Outside the Pigeon-Hole: Pairing Mexican Wine with Thai Cuisine

Gwendolyn from Wine Predator Gwendolyn Alley features Sparkling Wine from Mexico For #TacoTuesday

Robin of Crushed Grape Chronicles shares “Mexican Wines – 2 wines from the central Mexican highlands of Querétaro #WinePW

Linda from My Full Wine Glass is “Saying ‘hola’ to Mexican Tempranillo and sparkling wine

Martin from ENOFLZ Wine Blog will share “Exploring Mexican Wine Beyond Baja

Nicole from Somm’s Table is “Sipping Mexican Wines with a Bowl of Birria

Liz at What’s in that Bottle posted “Salud a Los Vinos de Mexico!

Terri from Our Good Life pairs “Grassfed Ribeye with Steak Butter and Grilled Oyster Mushrooms Paired with Monte Xanic Cabernet Sauvignon

David from Cooking Chat pairs “Roasted Beet Pesto Pasta with Mexican Merlot


Decorative wine bottle drip collar rings provided by:

(Special discount promo code: CFW15)

Tierra Adentro, Zacatecas

(Photo courtesy Tozi Imports)

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