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Pairing Wine With Chili

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Chili soup – A classic American dish said to have originated in the state of Texas. It is made of ground beef, tomatoes, red kidney beans, garlic and the most important ingredient which would be chili peppers. 

The dish itself is a soup but as it has ground beef, tomatoes and red kidney beans we would suggest having a red wine with medium body, medium tannins and a firm structure. Acidity plays a vital role as well since having tomatoes makes any dish a bit more acidic. 

Wine Characteristics To Pair With Chili

AcidityMedium to High
TanninsLow to Medium
BodyLight to Medium Bodied Reds
Tasting NotesRed fruit, Black fruit, Spice, Smoke, Oak, Cloves 

Sweetness– Dry wines are what you should be looking for when having chili soup. 

Acidity – Medium to high acidity will help you balance out the acidity of tomatoes in the soup.

Tannins – You shouldn’t go higher than a medium level of tannins when choosing your wines as a red wine that’s too high in tannins will overpower the soup.

Body – A full bodied wine will be too powerful for chili soup so try to go for a low to medium bodied wine. 

Tasting Notes – A core of red fruit and black fruit with spice from oak, smoke, cloves and a bit of game aromas. 

Best Red Wine To Drink With Chili

When it comes to this classic American dish you should opt out for a firm red with a medium body, medium tannin level and a good balance between those tannins and acidity. 

Too much of anything puts the wine out of balance and in general with soup dishes it’s quite important to have a balance in your wine. What is also important, don’t reach for high alcohol wines, as the heat from chili doesn’t work well with alcohol. 

Sangiovese from Italy

Sangiovese is at its best in its home region of Tuscany. The grape variety is indigenous to the country although it is grown in different regions in the world. It produces wines with a medium body, good level of tannins and a nice acidity to balance it out. It has a characteristic tomato aroma and flavor which will complement the tomatoes in the chili soup. 

Pinot Noir from France

Pinot Noir tends to be lighter in body with a bit lower tannin level as well but with a good level of acidity in the wine which adds to the freshness. They are also lower in alcohol when coming from the Old World and are at their best when they come from Burgundy which is the home of this grape variety. Whether you want to have on from Burgundy or a slightly lighter style from Alsace, you won’t be wrong. 

Cannonau from Italy 

Cannonau is a grape variety planted on the island of Sardinia in Italy, where it was thought to be planted by the Aragonese in the 14th century. However it is now thought that the grape originated on the island and later spread to Spain and France where it is known as Grenache.
Cannonau tends to be a bit different in style, with slightly lower alcohol level, a bit more intensity in the body and a bit of a darker fruit aroma. 

Tempranillo from Spain

Whether you would like to have a classic Tempranillo based blend from Rioja or one from Ribera del Duero where it is called Tinta del Pais or Tinto Fino, Tempranillo will make a great pairing for chili soup. It will cut through the beef, pair well with tomatoes, and it will add a spicy bouquet to your main course. 

Malbec from Argentina 

A wine coming from the New World, Malbec is now mostly known for being grown in Argentina. It is however a grape that originated in France, planted in South West France in Cahors and in the Loire where it is called Cot. In Argentina it produces wines with a bit smoother tannins, lots of blue and black fruit aromas and a chocolate, spicy bouquet from oak aging. It will make your dining experience more sophisticated and complex. 

Best White Wine To Drink With Chili

White wines aren’t considered to be natural pairings for beef and tomatoes which does make sense, although there are a couple of nice suggestions if you are more of a white wine fan. We would suggest having a wine with a good level of acidity, a bit of an oily texture, firm structure and a medium to full body. 

Riesling from France

An Alsatian Riesling will make a good pairing for the spiciness of the chili soup, as it has a bit of sweetness and lots of spicy, petrol aromas. When aged well it has a bit of a ginger, nutty flavor which makes the sensation even more complex. Soaring acidity will cut through the beef but also balance the acidity of tomatoes in the dish. 

Chenin Blanc from South Africa 

An South African Chenin Blanc tends to be a bit more full bodied and fresh than its Old World counterpart and this can be attributed to a hotter climate. However they still have a good level of acidity which is necessary for this dish. Oak aging adds to the spicy bouquet of the wine and gives a bit of a rounder texture. 

Best Wine To Drink With Chili

Chili soup can be a bit of a tough pairing, as we mentioned before, the acidity of tomatoes and the texture of the beef usually ask for a red wine and we have to be careful not to have a wine high in alcohol which would enhance the heat of the chili. We have made a list of wines to try with your chili soup and we hope you will enjoy the pairing. 

  • Sangiovese from Italy
  • Pinot Noir from France
  • Tempranillo from Spain
  • Cannonau from Italy 
  • Malbec from Argentina 
  • Riesling from France

Pairing Wine With Soup