How do you like to taste tequila? The lovers of this strong drink, almost from the beginning, adopted the custom of accompanying it with salt and lemon. It is said that the combination of these condiments made it softer to the palate because when a pinch of salt is placed in the mouth, it produces greater salivation, which reduces the burning sensation of the drink. Passing it down the throat and immediately sucking on the lemon relieves the itching sensation, according to information from the Mexican Tequila Academy.

Tequila in the world is considered a symbol of Mexicanness, which was consolidated in the 50's thanks to the golden age of Mexican cinema, in which together with the mariachi music this drink accompanied the protagonists in their adventures. Movies with actors of the stature of Pedro Infante, Jorge Negrete, Pedro Armendaris, the Soler brothers, Dolores del Río, María Felix, and many more, were great promoters of Mexican tequila, as they celebrated triumphs, failures, disappointments, betrayals, love, and even heartbreak, toasting with this appreciated beverage.

What is tequila and where does it come from?

The National Chamber of the Tequila Industry CNIT considers tequila to be the result of the fusion of two cultures since before the arrival of the Spaniards to Mexico, the fermented juice of the Agave was drunk. However, after their arrival, a new process was incorporated after fermentation, "distillation". The result of this last process to which the honey and juices of the Agave were subjected became known as "Tequila mezcal wine" and was produced in the surroundings of the town of Tequila, in the ancient region of Nueva Galicia, in western Mexico, in what is now the state of Jalisco.

In the Official Mexican Standard NOM-006-SCFI-2005, Alcoholic Beverages-Tequila-Specifications tequila is defined as: "The regional alcoholic beverage obtained by distillation and rectification of musts, prepared directly and originally from the extracted material, within the factory facilities, derived from the grinding of mature Agave heads, previously or subsequently hydrolyzed or cooked, and subjected to alcoholic fermentation with yeasts, cultivated or not, being susceptible to be enriched by other sugars up to a proportion no greater than 49%, in the understanding that cold blends are not allowed. Tequila is a liquid that, according to its type, is colorless or yellowish when matured in oak or oak wood containers, or when it is poured without maturing".

This NOM also establishes that tequila must be made exclusively from Agave Tequilana Weber, a blue variety, harvested in the territory protected by the Denomination of Origin.

According to the CNIT, a Denomination of Origin is understood as the name of a geographic region with which an agricultural product or foodstuff made in that territory and with raw material grown in those same lands is denominated. The territory protected by the Appellation of Origin Tequila comprises the entire state of Jalisco, eight municipalities in Nayarit, seven in Guanajuato, thirty in Michoacán, and eleven in Tamaulipas. In order for this Agave distillate to be called "Tequila", its production must be carried out under the strict guidelines of said NOM.

Agave distillate classification

Tequila is classified into two categories, according to the percentage of sugars from the Agave used in its production: 100% Agave Tequila and Tequila. The former is made only with sugars from the Agave Tequilana Weber and the latter from the mixture with other sugars in a portion of no more than 49%. In turn, these categories are subdivided into five classes according to the characteristics acquired in processes subsequent to distillation.

Tequila purchase recommendations

Check the labels to verify that the beverage you are buying is tequila. Remember that "tequila-type or agave distilled" beverages are not tequila.

Buy in the formal market.

Make sure that the cap does not show traces of tampering.

Check that the inside of the bottle has no foreign particles floating around.

Check the list of certified brands issued by the Tequila Regulatory Council (CRT) on its website www.crt.org.mx.

Compare prices, flavors, and qualities. Don't overpay for the same product.

Calculate the price of the product per unit of measure.

Doubt the quality of the product if it is well below the average market price.

Remember not to abuse its consumption, to have a good night and a better morning.

By Sharai Isabel Abaroa Silva