The course was really intense and covered every wine growing region in the world (old and new), along with tasting and identifying over 3,000 wines. Once the course was finished I had to take a six hour exam to become certified. During the exam I had to blind-taste three wines and identify the grape varietal, the country they were from, and the approximate vintage year. Following the blind tasting, I had to take a 100 question exam, which included two essays and then I was judged on restaurant service and presentation. Needless to say at the end of the day when they called my name and said that I passed and I was now a Certified Sommelier, I almost cried...well I kinda did...I was exhausted!
So what does a margarita have to do with wine...nothing really, except that my favorite poison of choice during the summer months is tequila, really good tequila. The bottles alone are beautiful and make you want to purchase them for decoration only. Yes, I still enjoy going out to dinner and reading over the wine list and choosing the perfect wine to pair with our meal, but nothing is more refreshing to me than a good margarita!
So here are my tips of "Do's" and "Dont's" for purchasing a great tequila and making the perfect margarita...whether it is served blended or on the rocks.
- DO purchase a 100% pure blue agave tequila (read the label carefully).
- DON'T purchase a cheap tequila (no matter how tempting). A good silver or blanco tequila should cost you between $20 and $30 for a 750ml bottle, and a good reposado (slightly aged) tequila should cost you between $30 and $40. I do not drink anejo tequila which can be aged for up to a year or more and is a bit more expensive.
- DO drink a margarita "on the rocks" as an aperitif when going out to dinner at a nice restaurant.
- DO use a reposado tequila when drinking a margarita on the rocks.
- DO drink a "blended" margarita when eating at a casual restaurant consuming mass quantities of chips and salsa...:-) or on a warm summer's day hanging out by the pool.
- DO use a blanco or silver tequila when blending a margarita.
- DON'T purchase a pre-made margarita mix, ever!
- DO spend the time juicing your own fresh limes, lemons, oranges, grapefruit or a combination thereof to make your own margarita mix.
- DON'T make a simple syrup using refined sugar to make your margarita.
- DO use "blue agave syrup", from the agave plant to make your simple syrup.
- DON'T use idolized salt or purchase margarita salt to rim your margarita glass.
- DO use a course natural sea salt and grind it to your liking to rim your margarita glass.
- DON'T use Triple Sec or Cointreau in your margaritas, use Grand Marnier instead. Triple Sec and Cointreau have bitter undertones, while Grand Marnier is fruity and smooth.
- DO use fresh fruit juices to flavor your margaritas. Some of my favorites are watermelon, mango, pomegranate, cactus pear, tangerine or pineapple.
- DON'T use banana in your margaritas. Bananas are good with rum, not tequila.
- DO use crushed ice when making a blended margarita.