The successful participation of the D.O.Ca. Rioja in the select Sabor es Polanco food festival has shown the wisdom of the strategy used to attract Mexican consumers, i.e., explaining the perfect pairing they can find between Rioja wines and Mexico’s varied and excellent cuisine. The aim is for Rioja wines to be user-friendly, fun and easy to include in everyday drinking in a country where they enjoy a great reputation and a long-standing importing tradition. As summed up one of the most prominent visitors, the influential radio commentator Sergio Sarmiento, «Rioja wines are part of Mexican culture and history and the challenge they face is to create a wine drinking culture among the young, appearing as fresh, renewed brand, because they know that their parents and grandparents were already drinking these wines.»
Held in the Mexican capital on 23–24 April, the Sabor es Polanco food festival brought together more than 7,000 foodies and trade visitors. They enjoyed both the best from Mexico City’s kitchens, with demonstrations given by their chefs, and the great diversity of Rioja wines, whose wine bar served more than 3,500 wine glasses from the 18 participating wineries. The Rioja wine bar was served by four sommeliers, headed by the Rioja wine educator Claudia Ibarra, who conducted a tasting and seminar for 100 people.
Eduardo Solorzano, one of the largest importers of Rioja in Mexico, said that “there is much interest among Mexican consumers in learning more about Rioja.” He highlighted the success of Rioja in his La Europea shops. The retailer is holding a Rioja Month with very active participation of consumers in tastings and events, which has sky-rocketed sales. For the Control Board general director, José Luis Lapuente, “the versatility of Rioja wines is going to be one of the keys to the success of their expansion in Mexico, a growing and attractive market, since they are pleasant on the palate, elegant, versatile and come in a wide range, so they can be paired with any type of food, meat, dessert or fish.»
The Control Board president, José María Daroca, underlined another important Rioja asset, the strict controls required of a ‘Calificada’ designation or origin. He was pleased that events such as Sabor es Polanco contribute to showcase Rioja among Mexican consumers. With the slogan ‘Mexico moved by Rioja’, the D.O.Ca. Rioja also plans to participate in other food events scheduled this year in Mexico, including Wine & Food Cancún Riviera Maya at the end of April and the Wine & Food festival Ciudad de México in September.