Food Facts: Tequila from Mexico

Cinco de Mayo, most affectionately, and most of all mistakenly, remembered as Mexico’s Independence Day (actually celebrated on September 16), is upon us. Contrary to popular belief, the 5th of May commemorates the Mexican army’s victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla. More popular in the United States than it is in Mexico, Cinco de Mayo is not just a celebration of Mexico’s victory over France, but a celebration of Mexican culture and heritage. In honor of Cinco de Mayo, we’d like to take a moment to celebrate one of our favorite Mexican exports – TEQUILA!

  1. Not all tequila is 100% agave. Some producers take shortcuts and use additives and unregulated “mystery” ingredients. Speaking of agave, there are 136 different types but only nine or 10 species are used to make tequila. How can you avoid these “mystery” ingredients? Shell out for the premium stuff that is explicitly labeled “100% Agave.” If the tequila is a “mixto,” up to 49 percent of its ingredients could be anything else…and producers are not required to indicate what.
  2. Scientists have discovered a way to produce synthetic diamonds using tequila. This discovery was made by physicists from the National Autonomous University of Mexico. Unfortunately, these synthetic crystals are too small to be made into jewelry.
  3. Tequila must be made in Mexico to be called tequila. Just like champagne can only come from France and Parmigiano-Reggiano must come from Italy.
  4. True tequila connoisseurs drink it neat. That means no salt, no lime and no shot glass.
  5. It could take up to 20 years to make a bottle of tequila. Well, sometimes. Tequila is made from the heart of the blue agave plant, which has a lifespan of eight to 14 years. For tequila, the plant is generally harvested at between eight to 10 years. Aged tequilas require a few more years and may not hit store shelves until several years after harvest.
  6. Tequila tastes best with lime juice and Cointreau (or Triple Sec). Not so much a fact as much as an opinion, but we love margaritas! And here are a few tasty new recipes for you to try out (responsibly and in moderation, of course).

Broiled Grapefruit Margarita, The Cookie Rookie

Peach Jalapeno Margaritas, Dessert for Two

Classic Margarita, Gimme Some Oven

Mango Margaritas with Chili Lime Salt, The Lemon Bowl

Fresh Raspberry Watermelon Margaritas, With Salt & Wit

Originally published May 5, 2016.

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