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Wine or Beer to go with Mole Poblano?

Hello Chowhounds!

I love making Mole Poblano, the wonderful classical Mexican chile/chocolate dish, when I can, which isn't terribly often. (I live in Denmark, and the chile scene here is depressing.)

And yet, I have NEVER worked out what kind of wine or beer would go best with this dish. Does anyone have any good suggestions?

I've toyed with porter, and some red wines, but without too much success. I'm an enjoyer though not a connoisseur of either wine or beer. And I KNOW I won't be able to get advice from my local wine merchants on this one. I'm very grateful for any ideas!

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  1. I would go with a Belgian beer. Any medium-light beer like a trippel (Chimay White label?) would work.

    2 Replies
    1. re: whiner

      Wow, that's interesting. I generally avoid Belgian beers because I associate them with a kind of yeasty flavour that I'm not partial to, but I'm certainly open to the idea.

      Do Belgians normally go well with spicy food?

      1. re: sangerinde

        Sorry... I didn't see your reply until now.

        Yes, belgains normally go quite well with spicy food. But if you don't like yeasty flavors...

        An IPA would also be a good idea, provided you are good ith hoppy flavors.

    2. Hi, I'd like to suggest Negra Modelo. It's brewed in Mexico but is actually a Vienna style lager originally made my Austrian immigrants to Mexico. Anyways, wonderful beer- like Newcastle Brown but imho with more character (nutty, spicy with some dark chocolate mole, trace of caramel). My go to beverage with Mexican food.

      uselesscamper's blog- http://the-wine-rack.blogspot.com

      4 Replies
      1. re: uselesscamper

        That sounds like a great idea, camper...hope I can score it here in Copenhagen.

        Any wine ideas out there, tho?

        1. re: sangerinde

          You might need to post your recipe, or at least rough proportions, to get reasonable wine recs. Moles and chiles can be all over the place in terms of sweetness, flavors and fire.

          As an alternative to Modelo, you could try a Märzen, like the Paulaner Festbier which is even available in Paris at the moment, so it has to be easy to get up in Denmark.

        2. re: uselesscamper

          2d the Negra Modelo suggestion. Bohemia as well.

          1. re: ibstatguy

            3rd the Negra Modelo. That was the first thought that popped into my head when I read the original post.

        3. I'm making Mole Poblano tonight and I always have a Mexican beer like Negra Modelo or Pacifico..NOT Corona!
          Everyone has given you excellent advice..do you make your mole from scratch?
          I cheat and use the good ol' jar of Dona Maria and spice up that bad boy to a rocking sauce over spanish rice and beans..with lots of corn and flour tortillas..

          1 Reply
          1. re: Beach Chick

            Made my killer Mole con Pollo last night with tons of Negra Modelo's but since I have always drank Mexican beer with this dish... wanted to try a red wine..had a Robert Sinskey '05 Pinot Noir..Los Carneros, Napa and though the wine was delicious BUT I still feel that several cold Negra Modelo's was the best drink for this meal..

          2. I love Spanish wine, and seldom make the effort to match wine to what I am cooking (which I sometimes regret, and then just enjoy the wine before and after I am eating). So I recently had a nice oaky Rioja Crianza with very spicy chipotle pork loin, and I was very surprised at how well the wine stood up to those strong flavors. You could give it a try, but not an aged, subtle Rioja, one of the bolder ones. Mine was 05 Bodegas Riojanas Puerta Vieja Crianza. Ribera del Duero also produces, many strong, smoky, oaky wines that might work.

            1. With mole I almost always have a big, juicy red wine from California. I'm not sure what you can find there but Zinfandel or a Syrah would be first choices. Basically the mole needs the big fruit to quell the spice. The tannin level of these wines also work with the acid of the tomatoes quite well. Sounds yummy.


              1. I agree with the Negra

                1. Mexican wines really stand up to the spice, which in the case of mole poblano with its deseeded chiles anchos, pasillas, and mulatos, should be very mild.The wines are young and fruity and many producers are gearing their wines for Mexican food.Depending on where you are there might not be that many options, but you should be able to find an L.A. Cetto Nebbiolo, or something similar.It would be inexpensive.In Puebla, they might have Acachul(wild strawberries with alcohol) with mole poblano.Don't have that here, so perhaps tejuino which is easily attainable here in LA, or a jamaica margarita.Even easier, a sangria.

                  Mexican beers, I love them, but they would not make a "maridaje entre comida y bebida" with mole poblano, which I believe you are looking for, a pairing.

                  1. Depending on your recipe (mole is like gumbo, in that each state and almost each family in each state, has a different recipe), I like a fruit-driven Zinfandel. Now, we do many different moles. Some are from jars, and some from scratch. Also, we normally serve ours as a "sauce" with some protien. That might have some bearing on the choice.

                    If I were doing chicken in mole poblano, I'd possibly lean towards a CA Central Coast Pinot Noir.

                    Now, in Denmark, I am not sure what would be available to you. I do know that in the UK, were we visit a couple of times per year, there are NO Zinfandels. I also doubt that one could find a Brewer-Clifton Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir, but do not know for a fact.

                    In the UK, there are only plonk US wines and these cost so horribly much, the exchange rate not withstanding.

                    Considering what I *think* might be available to you, I might try a Primativo, but these are likely to be far too dry and not at all fruit-driven.

                    Next, I'd think about a Rosé Champagne. These are very likely to have the body to withstand the "heat," and also clense the palate.

                    Will be interested in seeing what you find to pair.


                    1. Hello everyone! Many thanks to you all. There were such wonderful ideas out there, I'm sorry I didn't post my inquiry longer in advance of my party to take advantage of all your suggestions.

                      To answer the poster who inquired about my recipe (a perfectly sensible thought that I should have had myself), I was using a kit I found last summer at the Borough Market in London, from Cool Chile Co. Since these items are almost impossible to find in Denmark, I was really excited to get them all, in the quantities I needed, in one place. The ingredient list and quantities are at this link. I tried it for the first time over turkey breast--and felt the bigger texture of the meat was much preferable to chicken. I'd definitely do that again.

                      For the original dinner party, I was able to find Negra Modelo at a specialty beer shop here in Copenhagen for (cringe) 20 kr per bottle (about $3.50 at current exchange). So, I certainly didn't save any money by going the beer route! But I was really happy to make the acquaintance of this beer, which was new to my Danish and Swedish guests, and was a big hit all around. (And the bottles are pretty cool, too!


                      We have lots of leftover mole, however, which I've frozen in two-serving quantities for my husband and myself, and I look forward to trying some of the wine suggestions later on as we use it up. I'll also feel more comfortable trying it out just the two of us, instead of serving a wine at a party that might have flopped.

                      Thanks for your insights, streetgourmetla. Actually, a sangria sounds like it could be a lot of fun for a party, especially if it would go well with the mole. I wouldn't have thought of that myself. I'm doubtful that too much Mexican wine would be available here in DK, but I could probably describe the qualities of wines that you all have suggested and get something useful. We can get some Zinfandels here (Woodbridge turns up quite a bit at the supermarket, but some wine stores are carrying more quality CA wines of late), so that would probably be the easiest option.

                      Anyway, thanks all for your time and contributions!

                      9 Replies
                      1. re: sangerinde

                        Ooopps.I guess I missed that part.Yes, I wouldn't imagine Mexican wines to be available in DK.

                        That's awesome that you European beer drinkers liked the Negra Modelo, a favorite of mine.But, ouch, $3.50 a bottle?Glad you had good event.

                        1. re: sangerinde

                          Thanks for posting back. Glad that you got a good match for the party.

                          As for the Woodbridge Zin, I'd skip that. I wish you great fortune on finding better. I do not have experience with wine in DK, but know that in the UK, there is such an extreme premium attached to even mediocre US wines. Now, I love the selections of FR wines, when there, but shudder at the US representations on wine lists and at the obscene prices. I almost want to fly with a case of Biale Black Chicken Napa Zin and then fly back with that same case full of Cuban cigars - but you did not hear that from me, especially if you work for US Customs, or UK Customs, as the case may be...


                          1. re: Bill Hunt

                            LOL! No believe me, as an American living abroad, customs agents are noble public servants no doubt, but are not among my, er, confidants...

                            I know what you mean about table-quality US wines going for a premium here; I'm often very surprised. (Hell, I doubt Negra Modelo goes for $3.50 a bottle in Mexico!!) But--as I said before--we're enjoyers but not conoisseurs, and so are perhaps sooner satisfied than someone with your knowledge base.

                            Taking a quick gander online at the US offerings of two of the larger & more respectable wine vendors in Copenhagen, one offers almost exclusively wines from Beringer (charging btw $18-30, which seems steep for Beringer).

                            The other has 3 producers I've never heard of: Cartlidge & Browne (including 2 Zinfandels in our typical price range), Joseph Phelps, and Paul Hobbs (these 2 with most bottles well north of $150, though a few between $40-85).

                            Anything worth looking into there? Generally, we stick to ordinary table wine for everyday use, and our special holiday bottles I buy from my favorite caviste in Paris, Mme Peret in the rue Daguerre, when I'm down there on business. Perhaps I should start bringing CA wines back from NYC when I'm visiting family...

                            Thanks for your insights!

                            1. re: sangerinde

                              I am surprised at the selection. Beringer has so many "lines" of wines, that it's very difficult to say if any of the offerings are worth the time, or the money. Still, on of my fav. Merlots (not really a fan of that varietal in general) is the Howell Mountain Bancroft Ranch - just a wonderful wine. I still have a few from '89 (bad year from much of CA) and they are drinking wonderfully.

                              Cartlidge & Brown do some nice wines, and are not that heavily offered in most places in the US. I refer to this winery as "Cartlidge & BONE," but that's when we have the orthopedic Drs. over. I've done some tastings there, but do not recall any Zins. Either Imissed them, or they have recently begun sourcing/producing them.

                              Joseph Phelps does not make a bad wine - period. Still, some are not what I'd call "value wines." The same for Paul Hobbs. I love everything that I've had from him. In Phoenix, AZ, a friend gets 100% of his wines, so I have to travel, or order on-line to get them. Still, my friend does offer his celler to us, when we're together, so life is not too bad. He just did his wife's birthday at the French Laundry with Paul and then spent the weekend with him. If you like "bigger" wines with character, do not miss the PH wines, and that is for every varietal, that I have sampled.

                              Your selections in DK far outstrip even the highest-end US wine lists in the UK. At least you have access to the "good stuff." Now, like I said, Beringer has many lines, so you could be getting "plonk," though probably at their "Reserve" prices.

                              Smile, things could well be worse. Heck, with Paul Hobbs, you're doing better than I, just one state away in the US. Though I DO get to drink a bunch, if I am a "worthy" guest.

                              Thanks for the report. You have enlightened me a bit, and I appreciate it.


                              1. re: Bill Hunt

                                Bill--on the contrary, I'm the one who's been enlightened!

                                I'm doubtful that we'll be splurging any time soon on the Phelps or Hobbs wines, though on your recommendation, it's good to know we could take a chance at the "lower" end (still $40-85/bottle, as I said) and not be disappointed. Might be nice to try out the C&B, though.

                                If you're curious, you can visit their site (in Danish). Their main red wine page is here, where you can click through to lists by country:

                                I suspect the same thing is going on with the OZ wines here as in the UK (and France for that matter--I was surprised how many of the Aussie labels I recognized from France when I moved to DK). But it takes a canny distributor to go beyond what's "easy" to stock from the big, mass-production names. Most Danes get their wines at the supermarket, where sorting out the drinkable table wines from the might-as-well-be-vinegar options is tricky for the budget-conscious.

                                Thanks for the conversation here. I'm eager to learn!

                                1. re: sangerinde

                                  I've stated many times on this board my feelings that, "Joseph Phelps does not make any bad wines." Having now had most of Paul Hobbs' portfolio, I'm of the same mind.

                                  Hey, any time that I can introduce a European wino to good US wines, I'm ready. Still, when in the UK, I do go for the FR wines, that do not make it to the US. I guess that there is "pay-back."

                                  Having seen wine lists with US wines in Europe and the UK, I understand the feelings. For what is usually offered and at the prices that they are usually offered, I do not blame the residents, "across the pond," for feeling, as they do. They get plonk at 1er Cru prices, and are expected to accept it. It's a bad situation for people, who just want good wines at fair prices.

                                  Were I based in the UK, I'd cast a jaundiced eye on US wines, and with good reason.

                                  OK, maybe I can take your link through Babblefish, or similar, and understand it. As a US wino, I'm just glad that in DK, you have access to some decent, if not great, wines from here.

                                  Thanks for the link,


                            2. re: Bill Hunt

                              In general, the selection of American wines on this side of the Atlantic is pretty pathetic and overpriced. That said, you can ferret out some good ones at reasonable prices; I recently picked up a few bottles of Ravenswood Barricia Zin 2001 and Teldeschi Zin 2001 for about 30 € a piece. It's no Biale Black Chicken, that's for certain, but it'll make a nice change of pace.

                              Still, not for the value-minded even still. I could have gotten a better quality Châteauneuf-du-Pape for those 30 €. But then, if I want a California zinfandel, CdP just doesn't cut it.

                              1. re: tmso


                                Where, across the pond, are you located. Though they have been bought, Ravenswood, under Joel Peterson the previous owner, still does some nice Zins. Yes, I did like the single-vineyard offerings from a decade ago, but these are not bad.

                                When in the UK, we are not thinking about US wines (heck, I own thousands), but are looking toward France. Still, I shudder, when looking at the US offerings and the horrible pricing. Painful.

                                Personally, I think that ZAP is missing the boat, by not having a UK & European tour. Of course, then they'd have to work closely with the importers to get the price-points down to something that everyone could tolerate.

                                Now, one thing that I do not understand, regarding "foreign" wines in the UK. There are a ton of OZ wines offered, and at prices that are not too far off. However, the ones that make it to England are some of the worst possible wines from Australia. I think that the big producers in OZ are "dumping," and the winos of the UK are on the loosing end.


                                1. re: Bill Hunt

                                  In Paris. The wine situation here is pretty funny: obviously we have easy access to good prices on wine from all over France, so most of the time you just keep your eyes peeled for whatever's on sale. A special on vin jaune? Don't mind if I do. But even getting the good stuff from our neighbors at good prices -- manzanilla, German Rieslings, Barolo -- can be a challenge.

                                  In terms of variety, it's much better across the Rhine, where they have easy access to German, Austrian, French, Spanish and especially Italian wines (gotta love the German thing for The Land Where the Lemon Trees Bloom). The California selections aren't generally inspiring, but neither are they depressing; if you ask for a typical California wine at a wine shop or a department store grocery department, you'll likely get pointed in the direction of something reasonable at a reasonable price.

                                  Still, overall I'll take the French selection; it's what I want to be drinking 80% of the time anyhow.