What Wine Goes With Chili?

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Yes, I realize it’s a Monday, and we were supposed to do this Friday, but we missed it. No big deal. Won’t happen again, hopefully. And if it does, well, it does. This isn’t the Wine Spectator.

One of the fondest memories I have is of watching my grandfather eat chili. He loved a good chili the way most men love a good steak. It was one of his two favorite foods, the other being peanut butter. Needless to say, he never could find a way to combine his two favorites, but he certainly was able to ingest ridiculous quantities of each, separately. Many times when he would watch me during summer days or whenever my parents went out for a Saturday night dinner and a movie I would go to the pantry in his house (which was really a makeshift closet) and stare and shelf upon shelf of canned Hormel chili. There would literally be thirty to fifty cans at a time in there, next to which would most likely be a jar of Jiff Peanut Butter. Point is, whether it was a can of Hormel at home, or a homemade pot of bubbling goodness, when you have a favorite food, it should be indulged whenever—and however—you damn well please.

So it’s still winter time for much of the world (despite the 80-degree weather here in Los Angeles), and that means it’s one of the best times for that most American of dishes: Chili. There’s nothing like a hot bowl of tomato sauce, beef, pork, beans and spices all mixed together to warm you up on a freezing 60-degree night. There are three wine reviews today, and all of these go great with with this after-dinner-room-clearing classic. Sorry, but that had to be said.

Cardinal Zin Zinfandel – $11.69 at LowestWinePrices.com

Besides the kick-ass label created by the immortal Ralph Steadman (just think of Hunter S. Thompson), this wine brings serious fruit and kick with it. Chili, depending on who’s involved in the cooking, can be either wild or mild. This wine is equipped to handle both with big fat plums, fig, and syrupy black pepper, if that makes any sense.

San Simeon Syrah 2006 – $14.98 at FineWineHouse.com

With a sissy-ass label denoting the former regional home of overweight publishing maniac William Randolph Hearst the San Simeon Syrah packs enough of fruit punch to handle the spicier, Texas-style, four-alarm, melt your teeth, pants-dropping, blah blah blah my jaw is falling off-type of chilis with ease. Good acid that is surprisingly enjoyable after a mouthful of kidney beans and ground pork. Also, I have to point out how good this wine tastes with the flavor of onions.

Orfila Malbec 2006 – $4.99 at Hell If I Know

I’ve had this wine on multiple occasions at one of my favorite restaurants in Southern California, Inka Trails: a Peruvian restaurant located in the extremely dull town of La Verne. Just go eat there and leave quickly. Anyway, they always have this Malbec that I eat with my “Bisteak a la Pobre”, but I’ve never been able to find it anywhere else. I’ve seen other Orfila varietals, and I know that it is an extremely cheap wine (we’re talking like $4.99 here), but when I asked the owner of the restaurant about his distributor and how I could get my hands on some, he shrugged me off like I had just complemented the glass of water he handed me. Basically, the wine tastes like the perfect mixture of olives, spice, raisin, green pepper and gorgeous blackberry. This is a wine that was born for chili (insert lame “Chile the country” quip here). So we know it’s unorthodox to not give a link to where to find the wine, but it works so well with chili that we figured we’d mention it anyway. If you do find it, please let me know ASAP, as my life is not complete without it.

Check out our other Zinfandel wine reviews.

Check out our other Syrah wine reviews.

Check out our other Malbec wine reviews.

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10 Responses to “What Wine Goes With Chili?”

  1. hmm… a good challange… if the chili is very spicy, the spices and the tannins in red wine can make things miserable for your mouth so, something sweet and white like Guwurtz or Reisling would be our preference.

    If mild or medium spicy, we’d have to lean towards the Malbec.

    Thanks for the post!

  2. Wine Welfare Says:
    February 1, 2010 at 2:09 pm

    Good call on the sweeter whites. Gewurtz has often helped with the spicy Thai or Indian dishes. I am actually surprised I didn’t decide to throw one in for Chili. I think it’s because I’ve never really had a very spicy chili. Chili always seemed closer to tomato sauce, so i never think about the spice.

    Thanks for the comment! Hope you keep reading!

  3. To respond to the person looking to find the Orfila Malbec. Contact me I can help you considering I Import and Distribute Orfila wines here on the East Coast…Until then be well….

  4. Wine Welfare Says:
    February 16, 2010 at 10:42 am

    Thanks for the comment, G. Ray. This is what I had hoped would eventually happen with this site: interaction!

    Hope you keep reading!

  5. I Love to drink and converse about wine considering thats what I do for a living…Just got in the New Orfila’s from Argentina and are discovering wonderful pairings…If you like to eat like I do; try this for starters Orfila Chardonnay Roble with any posta, with heavy white or creamy garlic sauce…FABULOUS…!

    As for you Chillie lovers Orfila Malbec Roble will offer you a great balance between the spices of the chillie and the dark, rich aromic, and silky Tannin of the Malbec…

    Visit Ray Ankton on facebook for more pairing discoveries…

  6. not sure if it is the same “Orfila” but there is a winery in or near Escondido CA called Orfila. i have been there several times and have enjoyed many of their wines
    check it out, & if it is the same place, let us all know

  7. Wine Welfare Says:
    September 17, 2010 at 5:22 pm

    Hi Kip,

    Thanks for reading! Definitely want to check out that winery, though I don’t think it’s the same as the one in my post, which is in Argentina. Planning a trip up north (live in LA) later this year and I’m going to try and drop by. I’ll let you all know how it goes!



  8. Hi,

    I know where to get your orfilia malbec. It’s one of my favs. I think I may have paid like $4 for it.

    Catalina’s Market
    1070 N Western Ave
    Los Angeles, CA 90029
    Neighborhood: Hollywood
    (323) 464-3595

    Good luck! 🙂

  9. Wine Welfare Says:
    September 18, 2010 at 9:22 am

    Hi Nadia,

    Thanks for reading! May I ask how you found the site (Google search, etc.)? I think I’ve actually driven past that Catalina’s Market before, but had no idea they had the Orfila. The only time I’ve ever been able to have it is at the Peruvian restaurant I mention in the post. I’ve even contacted their local distributor and he was unable to help. This is great news! Thanks so much, Nadia, and I hope you keep reading! Let me know if there’s something in particular you’d like me to try and write about.



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