Tequila 101 | The Jewish Week | Food & Wine

Tequila 101

Tequila 101

Arette Artesanal Suave Blanco Tequila

The mezcal gets its name from the town that first made it: Tequila.

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Tequila is a type of mezcal made from a fermented mash of the pinas, or hearts, of the Agave Azul Tequilana Weber species of the agave plant. Unlike other mescals, tequila can only be made from azul (Spanish for “blue”) agave harvested in designated regions in the Mexican state of Jalisco and limited regions in the states of Guanajuato, Michoacan, Nayarit, and Tamaulipas; in Jalisco, production is centered in a few communities near Guadalajara — the most famous of which is the town Tequila.

Tequila comes in various styles, the distinctions between which have to do with aging: Blanco (white) or Plata (silver) is unaged white spirit; Joven (young) or Oro (gold) is silver/white tequila adulterated with flavorings or colorants. Some tequilas are aged; the "Respado," for example, are rested at least two months but less than a year in oak barrels while the Añejo have been aged between one and three years in oak.

Outside of Mexico, most kashrus authorities presume Oro is problematic and require certification. As Mexican regulations are neither very strict nor reliably enforced where beverage adulteration is concerned, however, a growing number of kashrus agencies require all tequilas to be certified kosher, except for blanco tequila. These are uniformly considered kosher without certification. All tequila requires appropriate kosher certification to be reliably used during Passover.

One of our favorite blanco tequilas, and there are many we like, is the relatively expensive Arette Artesanal Suave Blanco Tequila ($50; 40 percent ABV): made in small batches from only the heart of the spirit run, this sophisticated tequila offers robust, bright aromas of floral agave, white pepper, herbs and fresh citrus peel, and an elegant, complex, and zesty palate of pure agave with a kick of peppercorn, lemon, honey and a touch of black licorice, and a long, lovely finish. Delicioso! L’Chaim!

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