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Selecting Wine in Cancun

Although there are no wineries in this area, Cancun is a good place to sample both imported and domestic Mexican wines. Most of Mexico is beer and tequila country, with relatively low wine consumption, but Cancun is one of the exceptions. Higher levels of prosperity and education here have favored increased wine sales.

Mexico is the oldest wine-making region in the Americas. Because of favorable climate conditions and a pre-conquest tradition of alcoholic beverage production, Mexican and other colonial wines were competing so effectively with Spanish wines by 1699 that the King of Spain banned wine production in New Spain, except for sacramental wines. The prohibition lasted until Mexico's independence from Spain in 1810. Production was interrupted during the revolutionary period, but the industry soon recovered. Spirits and beer rank far ahead of wine in Mexican preferences, but wine is still an important consumer item.

"Mexico is blessed with some mature, well established vineyards of high quality grapes" writes Steve Dryden (Vino-Tourism, "Some of these plantings of European vine stocks go back to 1888, 1910, 1939 and the 1940's."

L. A. Cetto, Vinos Pedro Domecq and Bodegas de Santo Tomas have won international competitions, including two medals taken by Bodegas de Santo Tomas at this year's Vino Challenge International in Atlanta. In 2008, Mexican Wines won top places in the Decanter World Wine Awards, the San Francisco International, Mundus Vini Deutschland Neustadt, and the International Wine and Spirit Competition.

All Cancun supermarkets have large wine selections. In the Hotel Zone, standard brands of wine are sold in convenience stores, liquor stores and delicatessens in the principal shopping centers. Imported French and Spanish wines are expensive. Many fine moderately priced Chilean wines are now available, including Cono Sur and Concha y Toro and Casillero del Diablo. Oporto Ferreira (port, Portugal) and Marquis de Riscal Rioja (white and red, Spain, distinctive wire-wrapped bottle) are highly recommended.

Main Hotel Zone Liquor Stores

La Europea (just past La Isla Shopping Village on the lagoon side of Boulevard Kukulcan) is a large liquor store with an extensive offering of wines and spirits at very competitive prices. An even greater selection is found in their downtown store in Plaza Hollywood, across from Wal-Mart.

Xpress Super, Plaza Quetzal, open daily 8 am to 11 pm, Sun. 9 am to 10 pm. Mid-sized supermarket with all standard labels, plus packaged snacks and cold cuts, dairy products and a small collection of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Gourmet and Market, Plaza Caracol II upper level 9 am to 10 pm. Deli, restaurant and wine bar, bottle sales area has a good selection of mainly higher priced French wines, including Champagne.

Super Gourmet and Deli, Plaza Kukulcan (also in Plaza Forum and La Isla, but with much smaller selection) mini-market with imported and domestic wines, delicatessen, imported packaged snacks and chips.