Taco Bell is unveiling a buzzy new menu item. To toast the relaunch of the toasted cheesy chalupa, a fan favorite, the fast-food chain is releasing a Pinot Noir to pair it with, the Bell's first exclusive house wine and first wine partnership. The limited-edition bottling from Queenston Mile Vineyard, in Canada's Niagara-on-the-Lake region, is only available in select Toronto-area locations and on the brands’ websites, and it's called, as it must be, Jalapeño Noir.
Some of the Bell's "cantinas" have been serving wine for a few years, but this represents another level (or layer, if you prefer). The project only landed on Queenston winemaker Rob Power's desk three months ago, but he quickly got to work, choosing the winery's 2018 single-vineyard cuvée for the Pinot. Power described the wine as a "very earthy style of Pinot," more of an Old World style. He made 33 cases for the launch, priced at $25 Canadian ($19), which sold out on Taco Bell Canada's website 11 minutes after going live.
The pairing may not seem obvious. But when talks of a Taco Bell wine started, Queenston president Andrew Howard saw an opportunity to challenge the perception some have of wine as pretentious and inaccessible.
"Democratizing wine and making it more available is what the wine industry should be doing more of," Howard told Unfiltered. "Some people will wonder why we're pairing with a fast-food chain, but I think it's brilliant, and it makes wine more accessible for people and makes it part of every day."
Taco Bell also thought it was a supreme idea. "I think having this toasted cheesy chalupa with aged cheddar and associating it with a well-known winery in the area is really a special promotion," Kat Garcia, director of brand marketing at Taco Bell, told Unfiltered. "We intended this to be limited-edition, but given the coverage and the interest, we're very open to acquiring more wine if we can." (The winery told us they're working on another run of the bottling for the Bell.)
Although there are no plans to bring the wine to cantinas in the U.S., the toasted cheesy chalupa will be arriving south of the border in November, so you can try out your own wine sides.
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