Liquor Laboratory

The Spirit Showdown: Agave Wine Vs Tequila

bottle of agave wine and tequila

Last Updated on November 5, 2023 by Lydia Martin

Regarding agave-based spirits, the showdown between agave wine and tequila takes the stage. These two beverages, each with unique characteristics and production methods, showcase the diverse world of agave delights. Explore the intriguing differences and discover the distinctive flavors that set agave wine and tequila apart.


What is agave wine?

Agave wine is a type of alcoholic beverage that is made from the fermentation of the sap or juice extracted from the agave plant [1]. The agave plant, scientifically known as Agave spp., is a succulent plant native to Mexico and is the primary source of various distilled spirits, including tequila and mezcal.

What is tequila?

Tequila is a specific type of distilled spirit made from the Weber blue agave plants (Agave tequilana Weber var. azul). It is primarily produced in designated regions of Mexico, most notably the state of Jalisco. It is known for its distinct flavor and cultural significance.

an agave wine glass on the table

Production Process

How is agave wine made?

What type of agave is used in making agave wine?

Agave wine can be made from agave plants, including Agave americana, Agave salmiana, and Agave atrovirens. The specific type of agave used can affect the flavor and characteristics of the resulting wine.

How is the fermentation process carried out for agave wine?

The juice or sap extracted from the agave plant is fermented to make agave wine using yeast. The agave juice is usually collected by cutting the central core of the same plant, known as the piña, and extracting the liquid within. The extracted juice is then fermented in containers until the desired alcohol content is achieved.

What is the distillation process for agave wine?

Depending on the desired final product, agave wine may or may not undergo a distillation process. If distillation is performed, the fermented agave juice is heated, and the resulting vapors are collected, cooled, and condensed to obtain a higher alcohol concentration.

How is tequila made?

What types of agave are used in making tequila?

Tequila is exclusively made from the blue agave plant (Agave tequilana Weber var. azul). The blue agave plant is known for its high sugar content contributing to tequila’s unique flavor profile.

How are the agave juices extracted and cooked in tequila production?

The mature blue agave plants are harvested in tequila production, and their leaves are removed to reveal the piñas. The piñas are then roasted or steamed to convert the starches into fermentable sugars. The cooked piñas are crushed, and the resulting juices are extracted for fermentation.

What is the fermentation and distillation process for tequila?

After the agave juice is extracted, it is fermented using yeast. The fermentation process can take several days to convert the sugars into alcohol. Once fermentation occurs, the fermented blue agave liquid is distilled at least twice, like other distilled spirits, to obtain the desired alcohol content and purity.

wine barrel as a sampel of agave wine

Alcohol Content and Strength

What is the typical alcohol content of agave wine?

The alcohol content of agave wine can vary depending on the specific product. Still, it ranges from 12% to 15% alcohol by volume (ABV). However, some agave wines may have higher or lower alcohol content.

What is the typical alcohol content of tequila?

Tequila typically has an alcohol content of around 38% to 40% ABV. However, there are also variations, such as Blanco tequila with 35% to 55% ABV and stronger aged tequilas known as Extra Añejo, which can have an ABV of up to 55%.

How do the alcohol strengths of agave wine and tequila compare?

Tequila generally has a higher alcohol content compared to agave wine. Tequila’s higher alcohol strength is due to the distillation process and the specific regulations set for tequila production.

Flavor Profiles

What are the characteristics of agave wine flavors?

Agave wine exhibits a range of flavors depending on the type of agave used and the fermentation process. It can have sweet, floral, or herbal notes with hints of citrus and tropical fruits. Aging or blending with other ingredients can also influence the flavor profile.

What are the characteristics of tequila flavors?

Tequila is known for its distinctive flavor profile. It can have earthy, vegetal, herbaceous notes and a slight sweetness. The aging process can add complexity, resulting in vanilla, caramel, and oak flavors.

What are the key differences in taste and aroma between agave wine and tequila?

Agave wine generally has a sweeter and fruitier taste compared to tequila. Tequila, on the other hand, has a more pronounced earthy and herbaceous character. The specific flavors and aromas can vary depending on the production methods, aging, and quality of the product.

Usage and Pairing

How is agave wine commonly used?

Agave wine is often enjoyed as a standalone beverage or used as a base for cocktails. It can be used in mixed drinks, sangrias, or even as a substitute for other wines in various recipes. Some people also enjoy it as a dessert wine.

What are the traditional ways to enjoy tequila?

Tequila is commonly consumed neat or on the rocks with real lime juice, allowing the unique flavors to be appreciated.

It is also popular in cocktails such as the Margarita, Paloma, or Tequila Sunrise, made from 100% agave nectar, natural cane sugar, and with no additives.

In Mexico, tequila is sometimes enjoyed with a side of sangrita, a spicy and tangy drink meant to complement the tequila’s flavors.

What are some recommended food pairings for agave wine?

Agave wine pairs well with a variety of dishes. Its natural sweetness complements spicy cuisine, making it an excellent match for Mexican or Asian dishes. It also pairs nicely with cheeses, fruits, grilled meats, and seafood.

What are some recommended food pairings for tequila?

Tequila pairs well with Mexican cuisine, including dishes like tacos, enchiladas, and ceviche. It also pairs well with grilled meats, seafood, and spicy foods. Tequila’s versatility allows it to be enjoyed with a wide range of flavor profiles.

wine with charcuterie at the side

Geographic Indication

What is the protected designation of origin for agave wine?

Agave wine does not have a specifically protected designation of origin (PDO) like tequila. However, certain regions in Mexico, such as the states of Jalisco and Oaxaca, are known for producing high-quality agave wines.

What is the protected designation of origin for tequila?

Tequila has a protected designation of origin (PDO) and can only be legally produced in specific regions of Mexico, primarily in the state of Jalisco [2]. Other regions, such as parts of Guanajuato, Michoacán, Nayarit, and Tamaulipas, are also allowed to produce tequila.

Market and Availability

How available is agave wine in the market?

Agave wine is less common compared to other alcoholic beverages. It may be more readily available in regions where it is produced, such as Mexico, but its availability can vary in other parts of the world. Specialty liquor stores or online platforms may offer a selection of agave wines.

How available is tequila in the market?

Tequila is widely available in markets around the world. It has gained significant popularity and has a strong presence in the spirits industry. Tequila can be found in liquor stores, bars, restaurants, and online platforms, offering a wide range of brands and varieties.

What is the price range of agave wine and tequila?

The price range of agave wine and tequila can vary significantly depending on several factors, including the brand, quality, aging process, and region of production. 

It’s important to note that the following price ranges are approximate and can fluctuate based on market conditions and geographical location:

Agave Wine

  • Inexpensive to Mid-range: $15 to $30 per bottle
  • Premium and Artisanal: $30 to $80 per bottle
  • Rare or aged agave wines: $80 and above per bottle


  • Value or Mixto Tequila: $15 to $30 per bottle
  • 100% Blue Agave Tequila (Blanco, Reposado, Añejo): $30 to $60 per bottle
  • Extra Añejo or Ultra-Premium Tequila: $60 and above per bottle


Is tequila the same as agave wine?

No, tequila and agave wine are not the same. Tequila is a specific type of distilled spirit made from blue agave, primarily produced in Mexico. Agave wine refers to a broader category of fermented beverages made from various agave species. They differ in production methods and flavor profiles.

Is it better to drink wine or tequila?

Choosing between wine and tequila is a matter of personal taste, with wine offering a wide variety of options, such as red wine, for different occasions and food pairings, while tequila provides a unique and vibrant flavor profile derived from the blue agave plant, often enjoyed as a shot or in cocktails. Remember to always be mindful of your alcohol consumption.


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