For some time now, the American wine industry has been aiming its marketing initiatives at the US Hispanic consumer, trying to attract a new generation of aficionados. California makers were among the first to announce such efforts a couple of years ago, a move not all that surprising given the state is home to a lion’s share of the US Latino population. But what may now come as a surprise is who’s next in line: enter the storied French winemakers from Bordeaux, the world’s largest and most revered producer of high-quality wines, and the latest to realize that marketing to Hispanic consumers is critical to their success—at least if they want an edge in America.
“For us, it was a clear case. We looked at the cities in the US where Bordeaux is most easily found and we realized those cities overlapped with the Hispanic population,” said Sona Rai, Director of Media Relations at New York-based Creative Feed, the agency handling the marketing initiative for the Conseil Interprofessionnel du Vin de Bordeaux, or the Bordeaux Wine Council. “Then, when we thought about the values of Bordeaux—the deep sense of tradition, the love of food, the importance of family—we saw a natural connection with Hispanic consumers.”
Last week, the Council launched Viva Bordeaux, a free online recipe and wine pairing guide (downloadable in Spanish here and in English here) created in partnership with Puerto Rican-born chef and TV host, Doreen Colondres. It is aimed not only at introducing Latinos to a world of French wines, and showing them how well they can pair with classic Latin dishes, but at disarming the intimidating ideas that often swirl around pours from this region. “Many people think all Bordeaux wines are expensive and out of reach, they might even be a little scared of them,” said Colondres, a self-described “wine-obsessed-freak” who is also a trained sommelier. “But the truth is that 80 percent of Bordeaux wines are $30 and under and very drinkable.” Still, she jokes that when she first received the call to partner with Bordeaux, “I was in shock. I had so much respect for this region, I was amazed they called me. But it also confirmed something: that finally brands are finally paying attention to the fact that the Hispanic consumer can be a sophisticated consumer.”
With a website aptly named La Cocina No Muerde (for which an English version also exists: The Kitchen Doesn’t Bite) the Miami-based Colondres developed various recipes using traditional Hispanic flavors, then paired each dish with a Bordeaux. Her main philosophy: “The pairing should be 50-50. The wine shouldn’t be better than the food. And the food shouldn’t be better than the wine. I see it as a good marriage.”
Below is her recipe for a Mexican-inspired pasta—pork linguini in three chiles sauce—which she says is an adaptation of the classic sopa seca. She paired it with a Bordeaux blend, a red that marries the region’s principal grapes, most typically Merlot, Cabenet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, and whose deep flavor can stand up to a spicy meal. “It’s a very food friendly wine,” Colondres said. “I consider it everyday elegant.”
Pork linguini pasta in three chiles sauce
1 pound of linguini pasta
3-4 pounds of half of a small pork shoulder
2 ancho chiles
2 guajillo chiles
2 pasilla chiles
1 red onion cut in 2 pieces
8 garlic cloves
4 pear tomatoes
1/2 of a bunch of cilantro
Crumbled “queso fresco” for garnish
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Clean the pork with running water, then dry with paper towel and cut in 3-4 pieces so it cooks faster (keep the bone). Then, season it with salt and pepper and place it in the refrigerator.
2. In a cast iron pan, non-stick pan, or comal at medium-high temperature, heat/toast the chiles for about 2 minutes or until they become aromatic. Add the garlic, onion and tomatoes, turning occasionally until they “roast” and become golden brown with dark spots in some areas.
3. While the garlic, onion and tomatoes are roasting, remove the chiles, break their stems off, tear chiles open and remove seeds and veins to make the sauce completely mild. If you like it spicy, keep some of the seeds.
4. Place the clean chiles in a deep container with 3-4 cups of warm water and soak them for about 20 minutes to rehydrate.
5. Add the chiles, onion, tomatoes, garlic, half of the cilantro and 2 cups of the chile water to a blender and mix well. Add salt to taste and set this sauce aside.
6. In a large pot at medium-high temperature, add the pork and sear for 2 minutes on each side until slightly browned.
7. Then, lower the temperature to medium-low, add the sauce, stir and cook covered for about 75 minutes or until tender, turning occasionally.
8. Once the pork is almost ready, start cooking the pasta in boiling salted water.
9. In the meantime, remove the pork bone, remove any excess of fat, shred the meat and bring the shredded pork back to the sauce. Taste and season with salt and pepper if necessary.
10. As soon as the pasta is almost al dente, drain and mix it with the pork sauce and let it cook for 2-3 more minutes. Make sure not to overcook the pasta.
11. Serve and garnish with crumble “queso fresco” and fresh cilantro.
Pair with: 2009 Chateau Lyonnat Lussac-Saint-Emillion