Wined & Dined: Rainy Day Chili

The rain has finally reached the far reaches of California, giving the whole place a sense of fall, and (at long last) teaching the youngsters the definition of a puddle after a season characterized by intense drought.

Naturally, Californians are now complaining about the fall chill in our November air, and desperate for warmth in the form of food and wine. This week, I voraciously ate chili in a frantic search for said warmth inside frosty wine cellars.

As I did so, I drank.

First came a classic beef chili with loads of beans and tons of spice. The richness of this stew demanded a full-bodied wine, but the heat from jalapeños and poblano chiles warned against a high alcohol bottle like Cabernet Sauvignon. Instead, I popped open the Inzinerator, a fruity and off-dry Zinfandel blend from Scott Harvey Wines. The sweetness purely erased the spicy heat of this chili, while Zin’s naturally bold flavors amplified the intense flavors of the chili.

Next, the freshest chicken chili ever. A simple combination of onions, pan roasted chicken, and mild chiles simmered for hours on a bed of white beans this chili was fresh–and let’s be honest, “fresh” and “Chili” rarely go hand in hand. With freshness in mind, dove for a bottle of Turley Wine Cellars Sauvignon Blanc–yes, chilled–with lots of pear flavors tinged with fresh lime. Did it still warm me up? Yes, though mostly because I microwaved the chili for an extra 3 minutes so the bowl was positively scalding perfectly warm.

Finally, the ever-difficult vegetarian chili. I’ve been a vegetarian, and meat really does make a chili that much better. This week’s version, however, full of roasted squash and other fall root vegetables prompted Cabernet Sauvignon, and happily I’ve discovered vegetarian chili is one of the few meat-free meals that can stand up to this heavy-hitting wine. Louis Martini 2012 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, a robust red-fruited wine from Sonoma was the bottle of choice. Enjoyed together, this combination brought out the spice–black pepper, rosemary, garlic, and cumin. Definitely warm.

Stay warm all–More drinking misadventures on the way soon!


  • November 16, 2015
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