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Tequila Tasting

Fri, Jul 28, 23  |  tastings and pairings

Tequila is much more than just an ingredient in a margarita or something to shoot. It is a spirit to be savored, like a fine wine or an aged bourbon. Sipping and comparing styles is a great way to learn more about this unique spirit. Here are tips and ideas to get you started.


What makes Tequila unique is the use of a specific blue agave plant as the base and the region from which it grows. Tequila can only be produced in Jalisco, Mexico and certain surrounding areas.  

Generally speaking, there are five styles:

  1. Blanco or Silver – The purest expression of the blue agave spirit, this Tequila is aged in stainless steel tanks, usually for a period of 4 weeks. 

  2. Gold or Joven – This is typically a mixto (mixed), where sugars and different colors are added to give the appearance of an aged spirit. 

  3. Reposado – Tequila with this label has spent anywhere from 2 to 11 months in oak barrels. It has a lot of extra complexity.

  4. Añejo – These Tequilas have spent at least a year in barrels. The barrels are often small, which means more juice is spending more time with more wood. This is the good stuff, to be enjoyed slowly with good amigos.

  5. Extra Añejo – A somewhat new classification, Extra Anejo—or Ultra Anejo—spends at least 3 years aging in barrels. The added time with oak imparts the darkest color to the Tequila, much like it does to whiskey. The distillers will save their best stuff for these, so you are truly getting the ultimate representation of a Master Tequila Distiller’s vision.

TIP: Hold the Salt!

You may be accustomed to tasting tequila with salt and lime. But for an authentic flavor experience, try your samples first, as you would a fine Cognac or Scotch, without those extras. Taste the full flavor of the spirit by itself. Then see how the lime and salt affect the taste. 


The host should either lead, or designate a leader and keep the group focused on learning. Pour the Tequila all at the same time and discuss the colors, aromas, flavors, and finish against each other.  


A Brandy snifter is ideal, but most don’t have that many snifters. The next best thing is an all-purpose white wine glass. It is ideal to have one glass for each tequila.


How Much to Pour: 

  • 1 ½ oz. if tasting only 4

  • 1 oz. if tasting 6

  • Provide a spit bucket – this is a learning tasting and it is fine to spit.

  • Be careful not to pour your guests more than six ounces.


Why not compare different styles or the same style from different distillers?

Tasting Mat:

A simple mat makes organization of each glass very easy. Under each glass is an outline of the basic tasting components each taster should consider along with a space for notes.


Beginners should start out with three to four. For the knowledgeable Tequila fan, six is an ideal number.

Right click and save this image to print for your tasting event!


Make sure each taster has a glass of distilled water. Try adding a tablespoon of distilled water to see the affect. Or, try adding one ice cube to see how the temperature and “alcohol-heat” is affected.

Designated Drivers:  

We like to say Celebrate More. But we also say Celebrate Responsibly. Have plenty of designated drivers.


Slow Cooker Queso

Skill: Easy
Time: 30 - 40 Minutes
Servings: 6 - 8



  • Two 16-ounce packages processed cheese, such as Velveeta, cut into 1-inch cubes

  • Two 10-ounce cans tomatoes with chilies, such as Rotel Original

  • Tortilla chips, for serving

  • Flour tortillas, for serving

In a small slow cooker, add cheese cubes as well as both cans of the tomatoes with chilies, including the liquid from the cans. Set the slow cooker to low and let melt, stirring occasionally, until completely melted, about 30 minutes. Keep warm until ready to serve. Serve with tortilla chips, flour tortillas or as a topping for fajitas, nachos or tacos.

Crock Pot Chili Queso

Skill: Easy
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 2½ hours
Servings: 8



  • 16 oz. plain Velveeta cheese

  • 1 cup heavy cream

  • ½ tsp. ground cayenne pepper

  • 2 tsp. paprika

  • ¼ tsp. salt

  • (1) 15 oz. can no-bean chili like Hormel's

  • 3 tsp. chili powder

  • 2 tsp. cumin

  • juice of 1 lime (about 1 tablespoon)

  • tortilla chips/scoops or Fritos, for serving

Cut Velveeta cheese into cubes to help it melt more evenly. Add all ingredients (except the chips) to a 2-quart slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 2 ½ hours or on high for 1 ½ hours. Stir occasionally to make sure the cheese isn't clumping. Stir one last time so that everything comes together. Keep on the WARM setting when it comes time to serve and keep warm throughout your party. Serve with tortilla chips or Fritos.


Tip: Continuing to cook on low or high will cause cheese to burn to sides of slow cooker.

7 Layer Taco Dip

Skill: Easy
Cook Time: 30 minutes - 1 hour (depends on skill level)
Servings: Large crowd pleaser



  • 1 oz. package taco seasoning mix

  • 16 oz. can refried beans

  • 8 oz. package cream cheese, softened

  • 16 oz. container sour cream

  • 16 oz. jar salsa (or use your own homemade salsa)

  • 1 large tomato, chopped

  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped

  • 1 bunch chopped green onions

  • 1 small head iceberg lettuce, shredded

  • 6 oz. can sliced black olives, drained

  • 2 cups shredded Cheddar or Mexican Blend cheese

  • tortilla or assorted chips for dipping

In medium bowl, blend taco seasoning mix and refried beans. Spread mixture onto large serving platter. Mix sour cream and cream cheese in medium bowl. Spread over the refried beans. Top layers with salsa. Place a layer of tomato, green bell pepper, green onions and lettuce over the salsa, and top with Cheddar cheese. Garnish with black olives. Serve with plenty of assorted chips.

Cowboy Caviar

Skill: Easy
Prep Time: 15 - 20 Minutes – Let stand 8 hours before serving.  
Servings: Large crowd pleaser



  • 15 oz. can black-eyed peas

  • 15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained

  • 15 oz. can whole kernel corn, drained

  • ½ cup chopped onion

  • ½ cup chopped green bell pepper

  • 4 oz. can diced jalapeno peppers

  • 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained

  • 1 cup Italian-style salad dressing

  • ½ tsp. garlic salt

  • salt and pepper to taste

  • Tostatas and chips for serving

In large mixing bowl, combine black-eyed peas, black beans, corn, onion, green bell pepper, jalapeno peppers and tomatoes. Season with Italian-style salad dressing and garlic salt; mix well. Cover, and refrigerate overnight to blend flavors.


Variation: Add one package of taco or fajita seasoning.


Tip: Blend in about 1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro just before serving.

By Clark Trim

Tags: tequila tasting pairing