A Bartender Explains Why Mixing Tequila And Wine Is Harder Than It Sounds

Wine and tequila are two alcoholic beverages you can drink alone or in many famous cocktails; tequila is the star of margaritas and palomas while spritzes and mimosas put wine front and center. However, mixing the two isn't as straightforward as you might think. Tasting Table consulted expert bartender and owner of Cure cocktail bar in New Orleans, Neal Bodenheimer, to see if you can make this unlikely pairing work.

Bodenheimer is a fan of wine and tequila as the star ingredients in classic cocktails, and when asked if he would blend the two into a cocktail, he was cautiously optimistic. First, he reasoned that many modern cocktails incorporate aromatized, fortified, and even oxidized wines, so "it's not a leap to use wine in a [tequila] drink." He also thinks the diversity of wines opens the opportunity for wine and tequila pairings; "There's so many wines that are incredible...If the right wine is there, there is no reason why you couldn't do it," he states.

That said, Bodenheimer was unequivocal in his objection to simply adding a shot of tequila to a glass of wine. He thinks "you'd have to be very specific about what you used because you'd have to get the acid right and the dilution right." Mixology is an exact science wherein the success of a cocktail depends on measurements and proportions. Despite his doubts about a simple wine-tequila mixture, Bodenheimer encourages trying the duo in a multi-ingredient cocktail.

Wine and tequila cocktails

Although Bodenheimer is opposed to adding a shot of tequila to a glass of wine, he's all for adding a splash of wine to a tequila cocktail. He recommends adding wine to sours for a nice acidic balance. He says his "wife's favorite cocktail is a New York Sour with reposado tequila."

While a classic New York Sour pairs whiskey with a half-shot of claret, which sometimes refers to a type of Bordeaux not made in its namesake region, Bodenheimer thinks the type of tequila used in the cocktail dictates the splash of wine you should add. Since the smoky finish of a reposado is similar to that of Bourbon, a splash of rich red wine would work well. However, Bodenheimer adds, "If it's blanco, you probably want something that's a little lighter and less viscous because you don't want it to dominate."

Just as you can add a splash of wine to a tequila cocktail, you can also spike a wine cocktail with tequila. Bodenheimer thinks white or red sangria will benefit from a pour of tequila. Since sangria has a wealth of fruity flavors and sweetness, tequila will bring some depth and a complementary smoky or spicy bite depending on the type you use. Bodenheimer advises erring on the side of caution with the addition of tequila to sangria, saying, "I would probably keep it on the weaker side, and so probably keep it at about 10%. I think 10%, 10 to 15% of the volume."