The May 2011 issue of Wine Enthusiast magazine is out, and it includes (among other things) my review column on Tequila. You can pick up a copy at the newsstand, or view it in digital format on Zinio. Here’s what I learned:
2. 100% agave, or don’t bother. Go big or go home.
3. Like wine, terroir plays a part in tequila’s taste. Most tequila originates in Jalisco, Mexico; those from agave plants grown in the highlands tend to have a fruity, floral, herbaceous quality, while in the lowlands, volcanic soil yields an earthier, drier tequila. Further, a number of smaller producers specify particular estates where the agave plants were grown.
4. The unaged version is referred to as blanco, silver, or plata; it may be barrel-aged for up to two months and still be considered blanco. Reposado tequila is “rested” in oak barrels from two months to one year, while anejo is aged for longer than a year.
5. In general, most blancos are light and crisp, with lightly honeyed agave-nectar, peppery, or citrusy characteristics. But barrel-aging changes the game: after some barrel time, many tequilas were reminiscent of light whiskeys, with sweet agave giving way to more caramel, cocoa and butterscotch flavors, and peppery notes evolving into sophisticated smoky accents.
Shameless plug alert! If you enjoyed this post, please consider joining me in Austin, Texas, on June 4, for panel on “Tequila, Texas, and Terroir” at the International Associations of Culinary Professionals national conference. I’ll be joined by Austin barman Bill Norris and tequila expert Lucinda Hutson, and we’ll be tasting tequilas and fab tequila cocktails!