The Best Wine To Pair With Taco Bell, According To An Expert

You might think of wine pairing as a task reserved for a fancy dining experience, such as a perfectly seared steak served with a bold red wine, or fresh oysters with a glass of sparkling white wine. But the art of pairing wine with food is really just about striking balance with all the ingredients at work, and the "rules" are much less rigid than you may imagine. While you're not likely to encounter a sommelier on your next visit to Taco Bell, who says your favorite menu items can't be enjoyed with a glass of vino? You can use some expert tips to choose a grape varietal that brings out the best in your chicken quesadilla or cheesy street chalupa.

To determine the best wine to pair with a Taco Bell feast, Food Republic consulted a professional: Catherine Fallis, Master Sommelier at Planet Grape. She recommends thinking beyond the specific menu item you're ordering and focusing on the variables most likely to sway a pairing; namely, the spiciness of the hot sauce and the richness of ingredients like cheese and sour cream. 

"With either a soft or crunchy beef or chicken Taco Bell taco, the intensity of heat will determine how well a wine will work," says Fallis. "With their Avocado Salsa Verde [for example], the heat is mild. Other factors coming into play are cheese, wine's best friend, and [the] spice in the meat sauce."

Which wines to choose for Taco Bell

The first step in choosing a wine to pair with a Taco Bell dinner is considering the characteristics of the menu items. You can expect to find spiced, flavorful proteins (like ground beef or shredded chicken); creamy cheese and sour cream; as well as a bit of heat from their range of signature hot sauces. Catherine Fallis' prime choice? "Pick up a boxed Rosé with your takeout for the win: 2022 Game Box Rose California." 

This refreshing rosé pairs great with Taco Bell because it provides a subtle bite of acid that cuts through the filling ingredients and heavy seasonings. While the robust tannins in a red wine will clash with the spice, and oak-heavy whites can also compete with the flavors of your food, a sweet, fruity Rosé pairs perfectly with meaty tacos and will provide a much-needed reprieve from the heat. As a bonus, choosing a boxed variety keeps with the casual, convenient vibe of fast food. You can easily turn takeout into a more indulgent experience with as little extra effort as possible.

If rosé isn't your thing, similar enjoyment can be found in a sweet, somewhat acidic white wine, like a Pinot Blanc, Grüner Veltliner, or Riesling. Whatever you choose, try to avoid high-ABV options if you typically opt for spicier Taco Bell items, as high-alcohol wine — and cold beer, for that matter — can make hot food burn even hotter on the tongue.