The world of tequila can be a little intimidating, especially for newbies. However, a great resource for both newbies and experts—and everyone in between—is TasteTequila.com and its Tequila Matchmaker app. Founded and run by married couple Grover and Scarlet Sanschagrin—both of whom were born in the U.S., but now live in Mexico—the independent tequila blog features an additive-free tequila database, while the app is the go-to resource for detecting your individual tequila “flavor” fingerprint.
Of course, they both have “day” jobs, but Scarlet (consulting) and Grover (internet entrepreneur) use their formal “catador” training (the art and science of tequila tasting) on nights and weekends to keep their passion for tequila aging like an extra añejo.
Outsider caught up with Scarlet for a three-part tequila talk. Check out Part I below.
1. You were born and raised in California. Where did your tequila journey begin?
Scarlet: Well, in the ’90s, I moved to Mexico City to be a reporter. And after work, my coworkers would usually go to a cantina and have a drink. I had never had tequila before that—not in college or anything. So I learned to drink tequila sipping it and usually with sangrita [Mexican palate cleanser made of fruit juices]. The big brands back then were actually good there, before they got sold out to big international conglomerates. So I really learned to enjoy it. And when I moved back to the United States, nobody was drinking tequila that way. People would look at me sideways when I went to sip a tequila. But then, kind of a boom came and we did have a lot of good variety in the tequilas coming out in the market. About that time, I met Grover, so I converted him. Tequila is our romance story.
2. What was the catalyst for turning your passion into Taste Tequila and Tequila Matchmaker?
Scarlet: That is all Grover. When he gets passionate about something, he goes all out. So I was happy just sipping tequila and going to visit distilleries on occasion. But he really wanted to start the blog. So we started TasteTequila.com first. Then, a couple years after that, he started working on making an app. He has a tech background, so he really took that and ran with it. But Grover’s the kind of person that if he gets into something, he goes long.
We started the blog together as a hobby, but it was Grover’s idea to make it into an app since he has a tech background. Now we both manage everything together. I write most of the stories on the blog, and he does the photos and videos. The additive-free program also takes up much of our time.
3. What do you personally find so appealing about the art of tequila?
Scarlet: There’s so much variation. And what’s amazing about tequila is—our teacher, Ana Maria Romero, I’m going to quote her. I mean, this is her stat, so it’s not mine, but she did the research and she found over 600 naturally produced aromas and flavors in tequila, which makes it second only to wine in diversity.
4. Coming from a bourbon/whiskey upbringing in Tennessee, I find myself gravitating to either side of the tequila spectrum: either blancos or extra añejos.
Scarlet: Well, that’s interesting because most newer tequila drinkers come in enjoying the aged spirits first [añejos and extra añejos] and some of them will just stay there, especially if they’re coming from a category like bourbon. But then some of them will explore more. So it’s interesting that you’re doing the blancos or the extra añejos, kind of each side. For me, it’s mood, time of day. Like that extra añejo is great for dessert. If it’s the beginning of the night, I’m always starting with a blanco or a light reposado. Our personal palates, Grover and I both really like lightly aged reposados like the Ochos of the world. But it’s all to preference. You never know what you’re going to love, so just don’t rule out the reposados or añejos.
5. How many bottles are in your home collection right now?
Scarlet: Oh, my God, I don’t even want to know [laughing]. All I can tell you is they’re stored in three different locations. We have a small curated bar in our house of stuff that we just drink on the regular, but then we have samples that we take from the distilleries for our Additive-Free Program that we store elsewhere that’s kind of like a library. And then we have a tasting house that has an additive-free bar. People can book a private tasting and come and try things from our additive-free bar [in Tlaquepaque, Mexico].
Stayed tuned to Outsider for Part II of our chat with Scarlet Sanschagrin of TasteTequila.com.