Wine Time

Odd Pair: Guacamole and a Wine from the Basque Country

Who doesn't love guacamole? If there's someone out there who doesn't, they've never been to Texas, where I believe it is illegal not to like guacamole. As a native Southern Californian who got to Texas as quick as I could, I feel right at home in this state where guacamole is as American as apple pie (although, as you can see from the photo above, I add peeled, seeded, and purged diced tomatoes to my guacamole, a signature of California where tomatoes are more abundant).

The other night when I made a batch of my guacamole for a group of wine professionals who had come over to celebrate a colleague's birthday, there was no avoiding that age-old conundrum: What wine to pair with guacamole, where heat (jalapeños and chili flakes) and citrus (freshly squeezed lime juice) are combined with the acidity of the tomato and sweetness of the ripe avocado?

And then a bright light shone through our dining room window through the late afternoon sun...

Txakolina! Txakolina! Txakolina! (Pronounced chak-oh-LEE-nah.)

Once impossible to find outside of Getaria on the coast of Spain in the Basque Country, these wines -- light, bright, with wonderfully low alcohol content (11.5 percent in this case) and sometimes slightly sparkling -- are now making their way to the U.S. and to Texas thanks to a handful of devoted and passionate importers.

The explosion of citrus aroma and flavor in this bottling of Getaria Txakolina by Txomin Etxaniz made it an ideal pairing for the spicy guacamole we served as an antipasto for our dinner party the other night. Genuine fruit flavor, bright acidity, and low alcohol -- these are the top criteria that I apply when I size up any wine. The right combination of these elements is what makes wine delicious, food-friendly, and part of a balanced meal (in terms of both flavors and weights but also digestion).

I can't think of a better wine to go with the spicy foods and temperatures of summer -- whether in the Lone Star or Golden State.

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Jeremy Parzen writes about wine and modern civilization for the Houston Press. A wine trade marketing consultant by day, he is also an adjunct professor at the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Piedmont, Italy. He spends his free time writing and recording music with his daughters and wife in Houston.
Contact: Jeremy Parzen