Worm in tequila - mark of quality or sales pitch?
There's the worm in there! Actually, worms and food don't go very well together. You can find out here why you shouldn't call the health department if you have a tequila bottle with a worm in front of you.
Is there a worm in every tequila?
A bottle of alcohol with a worm is tequila, more precisely Mezcal
, which is relatively unknown in this country. Both tequila and Mezcal
are off Agaves are produced, but only the Agave tequilana variety, also known as Blue Agave, can be used for tequila. For Mezcal
, on the other hand, over 30 types of agave can be considered, which influence the individual taste. So the rule is: every tequila is a Mezcal
, but not every Mezcal
is a tequila.
As you've probably already noticed in the beverage store, a tequila with a worm is not the standard.Most of the time, a tequila or Mezcal
with a worm is a rather high-priced product, which is mainly sold via online shops such as Pacific & Lime
Why is there a worm swimming in tequila?
How it came about
that original tequila from Mexico is supplemented with a worm is not entirely clear. There are assumptions that this was originally intended to be a special quality feature. If Mezcal
or tequila contained a worm, this was taken as proof of the purity of the alcohol because the worm had not decomposed as it would if the methanol content was too high. Too high a dose of methanol can cause blindness in humans and can even be fatal. However, it is not the methanol itself that is so harmful, but the metabolites that are formed during the breakdown of methanol. Since a dead worm no longer has a metabolism, however, it is no good as a warning quality guard.
Other myths say that the worm in tequila is a potency-enhancing drug or that it has hallucinogenic effects. It probably goes without saying that these theories are scientifically untenable.
The assumption that the worm in tequila was originally a unique selling point sounds more realistic. Due to alcohol shortages, many Americans broadened their alcohol horizons during World War II and also discovered tequila for themselves. At that time, however, Mexican distilleries often had no brand names or bottle labels for their products. For example, American consumers had trouble recognizing a tequila or Mezcal
that they thought was good. Manufacturers from Oaxaca are said to have added a worm to their products to differentiate them from the competition.
However, the real reason for Mexican tequila with worms is probably a marketing strategy. The leaves of the agave are often attacked by caterpillars. Using these leaves to make Mezcal
or tequila will change the taste of the distillate. Jacobo Lozano Páez, a Mexican Mezcal
producer, realized this in the 1950s and made a virtue out of necessity. Instead of discarding caterpillar-infested leaves, he capitalized on the unique flavor and placed a worm in each bottle to identify it.
What's that worm in the tequila?
Strictly speaking none at all, as just indicated, the insect is actually a caterpillar. In a real tequila with worm you will find white or red specimens.The white worms are butterfly larvae of the genus Meocuiles. The butterfly lays its eggs on agave leaves, from which the larvae later hatch and eat their fill of the leaves.
Red worms have the scientific name Chilocuiles. This is a moth larva that eats through the roots and stalk of agaves. An infestation can be recognized by a sticky coating on affected areas.
Tequila with worm - can you eat it?
If you enjoy a Mezcal or tequila with worm, the contents of the bottle will eventually run out. That's when it happened: The worm makes its way to the end and ends up in the jar! To eat or not to eat, that is the question now!
First the most important thing: The Mexico Tequila worm is completely harmless to health. When making tequila with worms, care is taken to ensure that the insects are cleaned and free of pesticides before they end up in the bottle, otherwise you wouldn't be able to drink the tequila with worms. It is doubtful whether the dead caterpillar, which has been swimming in alcohol for some time, is a culinary delight.
In Mexico, eating the tequila worm is sometimes considered a tradition, but its origins are unknown. In general, insects are a common part of the menu in many other cultures. In our country, however, they are generally not considered food, so eating the worm is perhaps best placed in the dare category.
How to drink tequila with worm?
A good Original Tequila with or without a worm is drunk slowly and carefully in order to enjoy the aromas unfolding. The party variant is better known: You sprinkle salt on the back of your hand, lick it off and then pour the tequila down. The ritual is completed with a hearty bite into a lemon. For the milder version, golden tequila, cinnamon and a slice of orange are used.
Incidentally, this drinking variant is not found in Mexico, but a small bowl of salt and limes are served with a tequila. However, this serves to open the taste buds, the alcohol is still drunk in small sips.
And how do you drink Mezcal?
Since Mezcal is one of the medium- or high-priced distillates in Germany and rather difficult to obtain, it is best enjoyed pure or with ice. It is also suitable for the salt and lemon ritual, but it is actually too good for it. Instead, the variety of flavors should be enjoyed as consciously as possible.
In Mexico you can order a "Sal de Gusano" with a Mezcal. It's a bowl of spices, consisting of chili, salt and - there they are again - ground caterpillars. A piece of fruit, usually an orange, is usually served with it.
Tequila or Mezcal
with a worm mainly has a marketing background. And this strategy worked perfectly, after all, many believe that the worm belongs to the Mezcal
like the pear belongs to the Williams. The assumption that the worm is a special quality feature is also objectively untenable. The fact is that the insect influences the taste of Mezcal
s or tequila, whether it is positive or negative, opinions differ.
Have you become curious and want to convince yourself? Wondering where to buy tequila with worm? At Pacific & Lime
we have a large selection of Mezcal
s and tequilas of first-class quality ready for you , both with and without worms Decide for yourself whether worms and food go well together in this combination or whether the worm is more likely to be in it!